Electronic prescriptions for controlled substances

Keeping track of prescriptions for controlled substances and addressing the drug abuse problem has attained paramount importance.

What is EPCS?

Electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, generally known as EPCS, is a modern technology solution that helps address the issue of prescription drug abuse. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approved EPCS in the year 2010, when the DEA modified its regulations for allowing practitioners to transmit Schedule II-V prescriptions in the electronic format. This allowed pharmacies to receive and dispense, apart from archiving these EPCS orders.

The History of EPCS

With the objective of deterring abuse and misuse of prescription drugs, authorities worked in unison for creating programs and legislation The DEA provides guidance for EPCS; EPCS technology addresses the issue of stolen or forged prescriptions. This is achieved by measures such as requiring prescribers' authentication, enhancing security standards, and auditing the activities taking place on the EPCS platform.

Prescription for Controlled Substances

Drugs that have potential for dependence and abuse are controlled substances. Such drugs are under the regulation of the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA) that classifies these controlled drugs into five categories known as schedules.
Until recent times, e-prescribing of controlled substances was not permitted. Currently, it is possible to issue e-prescriptions for these, with the condition that the EHR used by the practitioner complies with the requirements of the DEA.

Responsibilities of Providers

Providers are required to take responsibility for ensuring the safety of EPCS. Providers are required to be registered with the DEA and they need to obtain a DES number. They need to have possession of two-factor authentication tokens; they are never to share their password with anybody. Their responsibilities while using electronic means for issuing prescriptions for controlled substances are the same as when they issue oral or paper prescriptions.

Responsibilities of the EHR Technology

According to DEA Title 21, the EHR or the technology used must be a product certified by a certification body or any third party auditor for ensuring proper signing, creating, and refilling of the controlled substance prescriptions. A way for prescribers to get identity verification and two-factor authentication that meets the national standards must be available in the technology. Linking a registrant to any one DEA registration number and making sure that they are indeed the only registrants who sign their prescriptions is the responsibility of the product.
EPCS - the Key Benefits
  • Increased security
  • Improved patient safety
  • Better workflow efficiency
  • Prescriber pattern analysis is facilitated
  • Patient satisfaction is improved
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