NACDS: Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances Should be Mandatory


NACDS is urging the Drug Enforcement Administration to make electronic prescriptions for controlled substances mandatory.


NACDS is urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to make electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS) mandatory.

In comments on the reopening of the Interim Final Rule (IFR) for EPCS, NACDS described the significant benefits associated with EPCS, and offered recommendations on how best to achieve these benefits.1

“For more than 20 years NACDS has collaborated with DEA on the development and implementation of policies and standards for EPCS. We remain committed to the use of electronic prescriptions for all medications, especially controlled substances,” NACDS wrote.1

Further DEA action would build on a NACDS-backed federal law that requires electronic prescribing of controlled substances in Medicare Part D, starting in 2021. It also would build on NACDS-backed action by more than half of the states to require electronic prescribing of opioids, all controlled substances, or all prescriptions, NACDS wrote.1

“Significant benefits of electronic prescribing include: safeguards against unauthorized changes, reproduction and diversion of controlled substance prescriptions; further reductions in medication errors; improved patient care and outcomes—including clinical decision-making at the point of care; enhanced workflow in healthcare settings; and cost savings due to improved patient outcomes,” NACDS said in a press release.2

The effectiveness, safety, and security of mandatory e-prescribing have been apparent in New York State where—after implementing its own mandatory electronic prescribing law—the state saw a 70% reduction in the rate of lost or stolen prescription forms, NACDS wrote.1

Because pharmacies have been engaged in the effective use of electronic prescribing for a long time, modifications in the rule “are necessary to reflect the advancements that pharmacies have made,” NACDS wrote.2

NACDS recommends changes to the audit requirements for software applications to make them consistent with pharmacies’ current practices in ensuring the use of the latest technologies, and to prevent duplicative and unproductive audits.2

“Considering the significant and substantial benefits of EPCS, further action by the DEA to make electronic prescriptions mandatory is the logical next step in helping to address this ongoing issue, and in improving patient health outcomes in every community.” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson in the press release.2


1. Letter from NACDS to The Honorable Timothy J. Shea, acting administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration. June 19, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2020.

2. NACDS urges mandatory electronic prescribing for controlled substances. Press release. NACDS; June 26, 2020. Accessed July 2, 2020.

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