Federal Opioid e-Prescribing Law Passes

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This week President Trump signed into law the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act1. The legislation is aimed at combating the opioid epidemic by focusing on several information technology tools that help prevent prescription fraud and abuse.

One of those tools is e-Prescribing. One of the more than 60 policies included is the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act. Beginning in January 2021, prescribers will be required to electronically prescribe controlled substances for Schedule II-V drugs covered under a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan. While many states have enacted their own laws requiring e-Prescribing, this is the first federal mandate.

Another tool included in the law is electronic prior authorization. Also by January 2021, electronic prior authorization will be required for Medicare Part D covered drugs. Electronic prescription programs will be required to securely transmit the requests. A facsimile, proprietary payer portal, or an electronic form that does not meet the standards will not be counted as an electronic submission.

The legislation also contains provisions to enhance states’ Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). The goal is to ensure each state has a PDMP, improve their functionality, make sure all prescribers are utilizing the systems, and foster data sharing between states. Beginning October 1, 2021 States must require health care providers to check their PDMP for a Medicaid enrollee's prescription drug history before prescribing controlled substances to the enrollee.

MDToolbox applauds this bipartisan legislation. We are continually encouraging providers to take advantage of the technologies we provide including Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) and Electronic Prior Authorization (e-PA) as they are important tools to use in fighting the devastating opioid epidemic. Putting these federal mandates in place is an important step towards fully utilizing the available technology to save lives. 

 

1. H.R.6 - SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6

 

California Prescribers Required to Check State Database

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Starting October 2, 2018, prescribers in California will be required to check the state’s prescription monitoring database, Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), before prescribing Schedule II, III, or IV drugs. California is one of 39 states that mandate prescribers to check prescription monitoring databases in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. By checking a database before prescribing, prescribers can identify “doctor shoppers” who go from doctor to doctor to obtain multiple prescriptions.

Prescribers will now be required to check CURES if it is the first time prescribing the scheduled drug for the patient or if it has been four months since the last time they checked the database for the patient. The check must be completed no earlier than 24 hours or the previous business day prior to the prescribing, ordering, administering or furnishing of a controlled substance to the patient.

All prescribers who were authorized to prescribe or dispense Schedule II-IV controlled substances were originally required to just register to use CURES by July 1, 2016. The requirement to check the database was to start six months after the state certified the database was ready. The California Department of Justice (DOJ) certified CURES was ready for statewide use on April 2, 2018.

If prescribers do not comply, it could result in disciplinary proceedings against a practitioner’s license. The Medical Board of California states in their CURES Mandatory Use FAQs1, “Failing to consult CURES is a violation of the law and it could result in the issuance of a citation and fine, or could be a cause of action In an accusation that leads to disciplinary action. Disciplinary action could be a public reprimand, suspension, probation, or revocation. Each violation of the law is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

The Medical Board of California also recommends that prescribers either note in the patient’s chart that they checked the CURES database or print the report and put it in the patient’s file to document that the check was completed.

MDToolbox makes it convenient for prescribers to check CURES by providing a link directly to the database from within the prescription writer. The system also automatically makes note that the database was checked for the prescriber. For more information and to request a free trial, see California E-Prescribing or contact us at info@mdtoolbox.com.

 

1. Medical Board of California CURES Mandatory Use FAQs http://www.mbc.ca.gov/Licensees/Prescribing/CURES/CURES_FAQ.pdf?utm_source=link&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CURES&utm_content=faq

National PDMP Data Sharing Proposed by White House Commission

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In a draft report, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis proposed that state and federal prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) should be completely interoperable by July 1, 20181. The White House-appointed commission is led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and is tasked with addressing the national opioid crisis.

The commission proposed several recommendations to President Trump in the report including declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Specifically relating to the PDMPs it states, “Provide federal funding and technical support to states to enhance interstate data sharing among state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to better track patient-specific prescription data and support regional law enforcement in cases of controlled substance diversion. Ensure federal health care systems, including Veteran’s Hospitals, participate in state-based data sharing.”

The report states that currently 49 states have PDMPs but many do not share data. As we wrote about earlier, 37 states are connected to NABP PMP InterConnect which is run by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The commission urged that the VA and HHS should lead the effort to have all state and federal PDMP systems share information.

The report went on to state that PDMPs need to be easy to use and include other data to assist prescribing doctors. Interestingly, the commission said that “ideally, clinician should check their state PDMP before making the decision to prescribe either an opioid or benzodiazepine” but there was no recommendation to make it mandatory for prescribers to check.

The commission’s final report is due in just a couple weeks on October 1st and it’s expected to include several other recommendations related to health IT.

 

1.  https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/ondcp/commission-interim-report.pdf

Missouri Final State to Implement a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

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Missouri Governor Eric Greitens recently signed Executive Order (EO) 17-181 directing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to create a statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). Despite legislative efforts for more than a decade, Missouri is currently the only state lacking such a program.

The governor’s announcement of the statewide PDMP said that it will utilize de-identified data from private sector partners to target “pill mills” that pump out prescription drugs at dangerous and unlawful levels. It will monitor both prescribers and dispensers of Schedule II through Schedule IV controlled substances in an effort to go directly to the source of drug shoppers. Opioids are the main focus as the national plague is hitting hard in Missouri with over 900 deaths in 2016 being due to opioid overdoses.

The executive order received national praise. Richard Baum, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy stated, “In the context of both the ongoing opioid epidemic and the health of Missourians, it’s vital to have safeguards in place to make sure that doctors aren’t overprescribing opioids that can be misused and patients aren’t doctor-shopping for multiple prescriptions that could be misused or diverted.” Secretary Tom Price of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also praised the Governor stating, “I commend Missouri Governor Eric Greitens for taking a strong step in fighting the opioid epidemic by joining other states in establishing a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). I commend Governor Greitens for his leadership in Missouri as we all work to detect and deter the abuse of prescription drugs.”

State statute prevents Missouri from identifying patients, so they will be focusing on the prescribers and the dispensers with data from pharmacy benefit management organizations. They plan to be live with data from Express Scripts Holding Co. later this summer and hope to contract with two additional pharmacy benefit management organizations as well.

Due to the lack of a statewide program, local counties, led by St. Louis County, took it upon themselves earlier this year to create a prescription monitoring program. The St. Louis County PDMP focuses at the patient level instead of on prescribers and dispensers. The county program has three goals listed on its website2:

   1) Improve controlled substance prescribing by providing critical information regarding a patient’s controlled substance prescription history
   2) Inform clinical practice by identifying patients at high-risk who would benefit from early interventions
   3) Reduce the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose while making sure patients have access to safe, effective treatment

The new statewide PDMP is hoped to be a companion to the county program which covers the majority of the state, not a replacement, as the two systems take different approaches to combating the opioid epidemic.

1.https://governor.mo.gov/news/archive/governor-eric-greitens-announces-statewide-prescription-drug-monitoring-program

2. http://www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/PDMP