DEA issues interim final rule on e-prescribing of controlled drugs

July 15, 2010

The Drug Enforcement Administration has released its long-awaited interim final rule for electronic prescribing of controlled substances.

Key Points

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has released its long awaited interim final rule for electronic prescribing of controlled substances. The new rule became effective on June 1, 2010, and could be revised later on the basis of public comment. The current rule is based on proposals published in June 2008.

"In general, we are pleased," said Ronna Hauser, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). "DEA will need to come out with some clarifications to this interim final rule, but they clearly addressed some of our concerns on earlier proposals."

NCPA and other pharmacy organizations have been working with DEA for more than a decade to draft and refine rules to apply electronic prescribing to controlled substances. E-prescribing for controlled substances is not likely to happen for at least another year, cautioned Marcie Bough, director of federal regulatory affairs, American Pharmacists Association (APhA), but the broad outlines appear to be practical for pharmacists, prescribers, and the DEA.

The new rule coordinates electronic prescribing for controlled substances and noncontrolled pharmaceutical products. More than 97% of chain pharmacies are equipped to receive and process electronic scripts, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). E-prescribing penetration is lower among independents, according to NCPA, but the vast majority of independent pharmacies can also accept e-scripts.