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Legislators say it will help ease the problem, but the NCPA says it’s just one part of the solution.
If a new federal bill is successful, e-prescriptions will be required for opioids and other controlled substances under Medicare.
Representatives Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Katherine Clark (D-MA) have introduced H.R. 3528, the “Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act”, which would require all doctors and pharmacists to use an online database when prescribing addictive drugs.
“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,” Mullin said. “This bill prevents patients from doctor shopping and prevents fraudulent, handwritten paper prescriptions.”
Related article: How to Beat the Opioid Crisis
While NCPA praised the bill, it is just one part of a solution to the opioid epidemic. “We commend the lawmakers' intent and goals with the legislation as independent community pharmacists are on the front lines battling the opioid epidemic,” Kevin Schweers, a spokesman for NCPA, told Drug Topics. “We have several recommendations along the lines of technical modifications to help ensure the legislation works as intended without any adverse impact on community pharmacists and the patients they serve. We are providing those suggestions and believe that mandatory electronic prescribing of these medications is part of a multifaceted solution to this problem. "
The EPCS Act complements an Oklahoma state law, which already requires doctors in the state to check the Oklahoma Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) when prescribing controlled substances to new patients.
“Oklahoma is consistently ranked among the highest in the nation in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers. Despite federal and local efforts, we have seen the opioid epidemic creep into our communities at alarming rates,” Mullin said. “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 … aims to close a dangerous loophole that has been fueling the problem of excessively prescribed opioids.”