Massachusetts To Require Electronically Prescribing Controlled Substances

Posted by on Comments (0)

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed a bill that will require prescribers to electronically prescribe controlled substances.  The bill, An Act for Prevention and Access to Appropriate Care and Treatment of Addiction1, is intended to address the growing opioid problem. The opioid epidemic has claimed more than 2,000 lives in Massachusetts in both 2016 and 2017.

As the name of the new expansive law indicates, it’s focused on strengthening education and prevention efforts, strengthening intervention and harm reduction strategies, and improving access to treatment. Two focuses of prevention relate specifically to prescribers:

  • Mandates prescribers to send controlled substance prescriptions electronically starting January 1, 2020.
  • Requires prescribers to check the state prescription monitoring program (PMP) each time a prescription for a schedule II or III, or a benzodiazepine is issued.

“The opioid and heroin crisis has tragically claimed scores of lives and broken families across the Commonwealth, and this new bill will serve as our latest tool kit to address the public health crisis through increased access to treatment, education, and prevention,” Baker said. “While there is still much work to do, this bipartisan bill will support the fight against this horrible epidemic by holding providers more accountable for prescribing practices, taking stronger steps to intervene earlier in a person’s life, and expanding access to recovery coaches.”

MDToolbox urges prescribers to take full advantage of e-Prescribing and to not only send controlled substances electronically, but all prescriptions as soon as possible. The opioid epidemic continues to worsen and this is an easy way for prescribers to help combat it. Currently, a meager 15% of prescribers in Massachusetts are enabled for EPCS. Prescribers shouldn’t view it as a new technological burden, but as a tool they can use in their practice to aid in their day to day prescribing tasks.  By prescribing all prescriptions electronically in one easy workflow, both time and money will be saved. MDToolbox offers all prescribers a free 30 day trial to see just how beneficial e-Prescribing and EPCS can be. Contact us for more information.

1. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2018/Chapter208

Walmart to Limit Opioid Prescriptions and Require EPCS

Posted by on Comments (0)

 

Walmart recently announced they will be implementing two new policies aimed at combating opioid abuse1. They include:

  • Restrict initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply, with up to a 50 morphine milligram equivalent maximum per day
  • Require e-prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS)

The policies will apply to all Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in the United States and Puerto Rico. The 7-day limit policy is set to be enforced within the next 60 days. The EPCS requirement will not go into place until January 1, 2020 but it is an important piece since electronic prescriptions prevent fraud and minimize errors.

While many states have either already implemented or are in the process of implementing laws to limit opioids and require EPCS, this is the first large pharmacy chain we have seen implement such measures. Some states limit opioid prescriptions to fewer than 7 days in which case they will default to the state law.

“We are taking action in the fight against the nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of Health & Wellness and Consumables, Walmart U.S. “We are proud to implement these policies and initiatives as we work to create solutions that address this critical issue facing the patients and communities we serve.”

Walmart also plans to give access to the controlled substance tool, Narxcare, to all pharmacists, provide naloxone recommendations for patients at risk of overdose, and have additional trainings and education on opioid stewardship by the end of this summer.

At MDToolbox, we agree that these are all important measures to take in the fight against the opioid epidemic. We continually urge prescribers not to wait for such policies to be enacted and to start e-Prescribing controlled substances as soon as possible. Find out more about EPCS or contact us for a demo to see how easy it is to implement.

1. https://news.walmart.com/2018/05/07/walmart-introduces-additional-measures-to-help-curb-opioid-abuse-and-misuse

Mandated Nationwide E-Prescribing of Controlled Substances Proposed in Bipartisan Senate Bill

Posted by on Comments (0)

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act. Under the act, all controlled substance prescriptions under Medicare would have to be sent electronically. The aim of the bill is to combat the opioid epidemic by preventing fraudulent prescriptions and doctor shopping.

The legislation was introduced by four senators: Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Michael Bennet, D-Colorado; Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.

As we wrote about previously, companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in July by Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA). House bill 35281 has a lot of bipartisan support with 21 cosponsoring representatives including 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

“We need to be using every tool at our disposal to fight the opioid epidemic,” Warren said in a statement2. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Bennet on a bipartisan bill that will help gather better data on the opioid epidemic while also helping health care providers make the best decisions for their patients.”

A Department of Justice report recently released found that misused prescription opioids are often obtained illegally using forged or altered prescriptions and by consulting multiple doctors. It was also found that most prescription fraud remains undetected.

“An epidemic of this magnitude requires us to address all aspects of the problem, starting with how providers prescribe opioids,” Bennet said in the statement. "This bipartisan legislation would expand a critical tool to track the use of opioids, ultimately reducing overdoses and saving lives."

Toomey added to the statement, “This commonsense measure will help improve tracking of opioid prescribing and reduce diversion due to forged prescriptions. This is a simple but important step in the direction of curbing opioid abuse.” Heller further added by stating, “This bipartisan legislation takes a critical step toward eliminating doctor shopping and duplicative or fraudulent prescriptions.”

The bill is proposed to go into effect in 2020 and does allow for some exceptions. These include prescriptions generated and dispensed by the same entity, economic hardship, technological limitations and other exceptional circumstances.

At MDToolbox, we strongly encourage all providers to not wait for legislation and to take advantage of the benefits of e-Prescribing controlled substances as soon as possible. It not only prevents fraud but makes things easier for prescribers as well. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about getting started with EPCS and offer a free 30 day trial so that you can see how quick and easy it is.

 

1.       H.R.3528 - Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3528
2.       Warren, Bennet, Heller, Toomey Introduce Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis with E-Prescriptions https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/warren-bennet-heller-toomey-introduce-bill-to-combat-opioid-crisis-with-e-prescriptions

Arizona to Require E-Prescribing to Fight Opioid Abuse

Posted by on Comments (0)

 

 

Last week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called a special legislative session to pass the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act1. In record speed, the Arizona Legislature voted unanimously to approve it and Ducey signed it into law on Friday.

The act is aimed at combating the opioid epidemic in Arizona, where in just the last 6 months there have been more than 800 opioid-related deaths. The focus of the act is to reduce opioid misuse, promote safe prescribing and dispensing, and improve access to treatment.

As stated in the Governor’s news release outlining the act, the policy includes:

  • Identifying gaps in and improving access to treatment, including for uninsured or underinsured Arizonans, with a new $10 million investment;
  • Expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone for law enforcement or corrections officers currently not authorized to administer it;
  • Holding bad actors accountable by ending pill mills, increasing oversight mechanisms, and enacting criminal penalties for manufacturers who defraud the public about their products;
  • Enhancing continuing medical education for all professions that prescribe or dispense opioids;
  • Enacting a Good Samaritan law to allow people to call 911 for a potential opioid overdose;
  • Cracking down on forged prescriptions by requiring e-prescribing;
  • Requiring all pharmacists to check the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program prior to dispensing an opioid or benzodiazepine;
  • And limiting the first-fill of an opioid prescription to five days for all opioid naïve patients and limiting dosage levels to align with federal prescribing guidelines. These proposals contain important exemptions to protect chronic pain suffers, cancer, trauma or burn patients, hospice or end-of-life patients, and those receiving medication assisted treatment for substance use disorder.

The e-Prescribing requirement will begin January 1, 2019 and mandates schedule II controlled substances must be sent electronically. There is some concern that those in rural areas do not have the necessary technology for e-Prescribing. Therefore, the act gives those providers additional time and outlines that e-Prescribing will not be mandated until July 1, 2019 for counties with less than 150,000. It also allows for the Board of Pharmacy to grant waivers to prescribers with a lack of broadband Internet access or other hardships.

At MDToolbox, we urge providers not to wait until the mandate and to e-Prescribe all prescriptions. In addition to preventing forged prescriptions and helping combat opioid abuse, e-Prescribing provides many other benefits for providers and patients. Contact us to get started with a free trial today.

 

1.       Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act Policy Primer https://azgovernor.gov/sites/default/files/related-docs/arizona_opioid_epidemic_act_policy_primer.pdf

Opioid Commission Recommends Increased Electronic Prescribing

Posted by on Comments (0)

President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency on October 26, 2017. In his address, Trump called opioids the “worst drug crisis in American history.”

After the President’s declaration, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued its final report1. In the Chairman’s letter written by Governor Chris Christie, he points out that 175 Americans are dying a day from this epidemic. The 131-page report goes on to include more than 50 recommendations.

One of the most prudent recommendations is that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the DEA increase electronic prescribing to prevent diversion and forgery. They also recommend that the DEA revise the Interim Final Rule which lays out the requirements for electronically prescribing controlled substances in order to make registration and using EPCS easier.

Other recommendations include mandatory PDMP checks, the creation of a Department of Justice-led data-sharing hub, and integrated PDMP data in EHRs. The report suggests passing the Prescription Drug Monitoring (PDMP) Act of 2017 which mandates using PDMPs in states that receive federal funding. This Act also directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fund the establishment and maintenance of a data-sharing hub so information could be shared across states. The Commission points out that many providers resist using PDMPs because they don’t integrate well into EHRs, so they believe improving these integrations is necessary to increase effectiveness.

While these are great strides in the right direction, there is still a huge issue at hand. Trump did not mention any specific actions the administration will take or how they will be funded. With only declaring it a national public health emergency as opposed to a national emergency, there is not much more funding available. The commission’s report urges Congress and the Administration to block grant federal funding for opioid-related and SUD-related activities to the states. However, the report does not address the amount of funding needed for their recommendations.

1. https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/Final_Report_Draft_11-1-2017.pdf

Forwarding Unfilled Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances

Posted by on Comments (0)

 

The pharmacy protocol for forwarding unfilled e-Prescribed controlled substance prescriptions was recently clarified by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The DEA has specified that if for any reason one pharmacy cannot fill the original controlled substance e-Prescription, it may be forwarded to another DEA-registered pharmacy. This was clarified by the DEA’s associate section chief of the liaison and policy section of the DEA’s Diversion Control division Loren Miller in an email to National Association of Boards of Pharmacy CEO Carmen Catizone1.

The email states, “As posted in the preambles of the [notice of proposed rulemaking] and the [interim final rule], an unfilled original EPCS prescription can be forwarded from one DEA registered retail pharmacy to another DEA registered retail pharmacy, and this includes Schedule II controlled substances.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) had contacted the DEA for clarification on the issue in May and applauded the response that was received.2 “Simply put, this guidance encourages the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances, and removes a substantial barrier to doing so,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, IOM, CAE said. “Electronic prescribing has significant advantages over other forms of transmitting a prescription because it reduces opportunities for fraud and abuse. NACDS is unwavering in its commitment to working with all parties to help find and implement solutions to opioid issues, while providing appropriate patient care. This has been, and remains, a top priority of NACDS, and we appreciate the DEA's action on this guidance, which we consider to be entirely consistent with patient care and with the proper handling of controlled substances.”

This is an important clarification that benefits both patients and prescribers by streamlining the process. It eliminates the need for a pharmacist to call the prescriber for a new prescription if it needs to be sent to a different pharmacy. This makes it quicker for patients to receive the medications they need and makes less work for the prescribers. This helps encourage prescribers to e-Prescribe which in turn improves prescription safety and prevents fraud and abuse.

 

1. http://www.ncbop.org/PDF/LMillerDEAGuidanceTransferofOnFileCSPrescriptions.pdf

2. NACDS Applauds DEA Guidance on Forwarding of Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances  

https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-applauds-dea-guidance-on-forwarding-of-electronic-prescriptions-for-controlled-substances/

National E-Prescribing of Controlled Substances Bill Proposed to Fight Opioid Abuse

Posted by on Comments (0)

Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) recently introduced legislation that would mandate Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) under Medicare Part D. The “Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act”, H.R. 35281, was introduced into the House of Representatives.

It states that a prescription for a covered part D drug under a prescription drug plan for schedule II – V controlled substances must be transmitted electronically. If the bill passes, it would apply to coverage of drugs prescribed on or after January 1, 2020.

The aim of the legislation is to combat the national opioid epidemic. E-Prescribing does this by providing safer and more secure prescriptions. Electronic prescriptions can’t be forged or stolen like paper prescriptions. It also allows prescribers to easily track prescriptions and prevents patients from doctor shopping.

“Opioids claim nearly a hundred lives a day, and parents across the country worry they will be next to get the call their child has overdosed,” said Clark.  “Modernizing public health practices to include electronic prescriptions will curb the over-prescribing of opioids, eliminate the costs and inefficiencies of paperwork, and strengthen communication between doctors and patients.  Congress should come together to pass this commonsense solution to prevent overdoses and save lives.”

Mullen stated, “We need to ensure that patients are receiving opioids only when absolutely necessary and take precautionary measures to prohibit them from falling into the wrong hands.  Our bill, the EPCS Act, aims to close a dangerous loophole that has been fueling the problem of excessively prescribed opioids. By requiring all doctors and pharmacists to use an online database when prescribing these highly addictive drugs, we allow e-prescriptions to control, track, and monitor these highly addictive painkillers on a new level. This bill prevents patients from doctor shopping and prevents fraudulent, handwritten paper prescriptions.”

We have seen several states including New York, Maine, Connecticut, Virginia, and North Carolina take a similar approach to combat opioid abuse by mandating e-Prescribing of controlled substances at the state level, but this would be the first bill passed at the national level. This is definitely a step in the right direction of fighting the national opioid epidemic and we are hopeful that Congress will recognize the benefits e-Prescribing can bring. We also urge prescribers and health IT vendors alike not to wait for such bills to be enacted and to start taking advantage of the benefits of EPCS now. Contact us for more information about EPCS for prescribers and integrating EPCS for vendors at info@mdtoolbox.com.

 

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3528/text/ih?overview=closed&format=xml

Study Shows e-Prescriptions Aid in Best Practices for Opioid Prescribing

Posted by on Comments (0)

 E-Prescriptions Safer than Hand Written

Implementing ways to fight the national opioid epidemic is at the forefront of many states’ legislative sessions.  As we’ve mentioned in several previous posts, a growing number of states are fighting the epidemic by requiring prescribers to electronically prescribe these controlled substances. A new study published by the Journal of Opioid Management shows that these lawmakers are on the right track. And it’s more than just increasing legibility and preventing prescription fraud.

Researchers from John Hopkins University analyzed 510 prescriptions for opioids looking for errors, discrepancies, and variations from ideal practice1. The study included both handwritten and electronically generated prescriptions filled at an outpatient pharmacy. An alarming 89% of handwritten prescriptions contained errors. What’s more is that 41% of those prescriptions were noncompliant with DEA rules. Overall, 92% of handwritten prescriptions failed to meet ideal practice standards, contained errors, or were noncompliant with DEA rules.

In contrast, none of the EHR computer-generated prescriptions contained errors and all of them were fully compliant with DEA rules. Electronic prescriptions are written using standard templates where most of the time the software will not even allow a prescriber to save the prescription without including necessary information such as the date, amount, and at least two patient identifiers. The software also aids in making sure any additional DEA rules and best practices are being followed.

The opioid epidemic needs to be tackled from several angles, including making sure the prescriptions that are being provided are accurate and safe for patients. Patient safety needs to be a top priority and prescribers need to make use of the tools available to aid them in following best practices and ensuring all DEA rules are abided by. Electronically prescribing has been shown time and time again to be a powerful resource. For more information on how to get started with e-Prescribing, contact us at info@mdtoolbox.com or 206-331-4420. 

 

  1.  An analysis of errors, discrepancies, and variation in opioid prescriptions for adult outpatients at a teaching hospital http://www.wmpllc.org/ojs-2.4.2/index.php/jom/article/view/556

North Carolina Joins Fight Against Opioid Abuse with Mandated e-Prescribing

Posted by on Comments (0)

North Carolina e-Prescribing

North Carolina is the most recent state to pass a law requiring the use of e-Prescribing in an effort to combat opioid abuse. Governor Roy Cooper recently signed the Strengthen Opioid misuse Prevention (STOP) Act into law. The act requires that certain schedule II and schedule III controlled substances be electronically prescribed by January 1, 2020.

The act also sets a 5-day limit for initial prescriptions for acute pain and a 7-day limit for post-operative pain. It sets requirements for utilizing the North Carolina Controlled Substance Reporting System as well. The statewide reporting system tracks patients’ Schedule II-V controlled substance prescriptions so that prescribers can identify patients who may be misusing those controlled substances.

The opioid epidemic is hitting nationwide and North Carolina is no exception. There was a 73 percent increase in the number of opioid-related deaths from 2005 to 2015 in North Carolina with more than 13.000 opioid-related deaths during the period. 

North Carolina is the 5th state to pass such legislation. New York, Virginia, Maine and Connecticut have similar laws requiring e-Prescribing. Several other states have pending legislation as well. All of these states hope to fight the opioid epidemic by reducing the number of opioids available and preventing the addictions from even starting.

E-Prescribing is an important tool in the opioid battle and we are happy to see so many states recognizing that. We are sure more and more states will join in the fight with this tool, but we also hope that prescribers will recognize the benefits and not wait for state mandates to start utilizing it. If you are a prescriber ready to start employing e-Prescribing of controlled substances in your practice, contact us to get started right away. 

Maine e-Prescribing Deadline Fast Approaching

Posted by on Comments (0)

Prescribers in Maine have less than 3 weeks until the mandate requiring all opioid prescriptions be sent electronically goes into effect. As of July 1st, 2017, licensed practitioners in Maine may no longer write paper prescriptions for opioid medications according to Public Law Chapter 4881.

As we wrote about earlier, the mandate was put in place in an effort to combat opiate abuse and heroin addiction. E-Prescribing prevents forged prescriptions, eliminates errors from illegible handwriting and misunderstood oral prescriptions, and helps prevent overprescribing of pain medications. It’s hoped that by limiting the pain pills, it will prevent people from even trying heroin to begin with.  

The Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services in Maine produced a document “Electronic Prescribing in Maine: A Guide to Understanding E-Prescribing and its Benefits2,” which addresses some frequently asked questions about the mandate.  Among the FAQs, it’s stated that an electronic prescription will be required for any amount of opioid medication being prescribed, even those for fewer than 7 days. Sending a prescription via facsimile will also not meet the requirements. Opioid prescriptions must be sent electronically using software that meets all of the federal security requirements and has been approved by the DEA for EPCS.

The DEA requirements for EPCS include:

  • Using certified software that has gone through a 3rd Party Audit – software systems must show that they meet the DEA requirements for signing, transmitting, and processing controlled substances prescriptions
  • Identity proofing – all prescribers must prove they are who they say they are and have the proper credentials to prescribe controlled substances
  • 2-Factor Authentication – prescribers must use 2-factor authentication to sign controlled substance prescriptions electronically. This involves using 2 of the following: something you know (a password), something you have (most commonly a software or hardware token), or something you are (biometric information).

While the requirements can make it seem overwhelming, MDToolbox has simplified the process. Signing up for MDToolbox-Rx e-Prescribing with EPCS is a simple process with only a few steps that can be completed within minutes. Once signed up, utilizing the software is just as easy with an intuitive workflow.

Although it’s quick and easy to get started with MDToolbox, we do not recommend waiting any longer. If you prescribe opioids in Maine and still need e-Prescribing software to meet the mandate, contact us today at info@mdtoolbox.com or 206-331-4420! We are ready to answer any questions you have and help make your transition to EPCS as smooth as possible.

 

1.  https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_127th/chapters/PUBLIC488.asp

2. Electronic Prescribing in Maine, A Guide to Understanding E-Prescribing and its Benefits. http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/samhs/osa/data/pmp/Electronic-Prescribing.pdf