In June 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) changed its regulations allowing prescribers to e-prescribe controlled substances (Schedule II–V). The DEA revised the regulations hoping the change would help with the growing problem of controlled substance abuse and overdose. Prescribing controlled substances electronically would reduce forgery and help identify patients who receive controlled substance prescriptions from multiple prescribers. In a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, researchers examined the effects of this change, using 18 months of data from a leading e-prescription network. Based on the data collected over the 18-month period (June 2012 to December 2013), the research showed that one-third of U.S. pharmacies were enabled for e-prescribing of controlled substances. On the provider side, initial adoption had been slow, with only 1% of e-prescribers being enabled as of December 2013. There are many reasons why prescribers may be slow to adopt e-prescribing of controlled drugs; lack of trust in the technology and the additional work of authentication and registration may deter some. However, despite the low adoption numbers, a significant upward trend for e-prescribing of controlled substances has been noted in the U.S. This increase in adoption is encouraging since continued use may lead to better patient care and workflow for providers, as well as a decrease in fraud and abuse.
Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) refers to the process by which a prescriber generates and transmits an “accurate, error-free and understandable” prescription directly to a pharmacy through a special secure network.