Until 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) required that prescriptions for controlled substances be written on paper. When the DEA established the Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) rule (75 FR 16236, March 31, 2010), it gave practitioners the option to prescribe controlled substances electronically rather than just on paper and gave pharmacists the option to accept, dispense, and archive EPCS.

However, as of March 27, 2016, the state of New York is requiring that practitioners submit all prescriptions electronically, for both controlled and non-controlled substances, so paper prescriptions will no longer be options in the Empire State. It’s likely that other states will monitor New York’s implementation and perhaps follow suit, so even if your home care business is not in New York, this change may eventually affect you.

Take our quiz to see what you know about the movement toward mandated electronic prescriptions for all types of medications and how current and pending regulations may affect your specialty pharmacy or home infusion business.

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* New York and other states are encouraging, even legislating, electronic prescriptions in an effort to prevent prescription fraud, eliminate “doctor shopping” for addictive painkillers, restrict illicit resales, and avoid errors due to illegible handwriting.
* New York’s lawmakers first recognized the likelihood of fraud in prescription medications after statewide statistics from 2010 revealed that 21 million opiod prescriptions—not including refills—had been written for patients in a state inhabited by only 19.5 million people.
* Although electronic prescriptions have proved to reduce errors and save time for pharmacists, data indicate that the e-prescription system is not flawless, with at least 20% of prescriptions transmitted electronically in the United States containing errors.
* In 2013, nearly 75% of new and renewal prescriptions were sent electronically in the United States.
* In New York, an electronic facsimile of a prescription can be treated as an electronic prescription.
* The DEA requires that pharmacists who receive electronic prescriptions and dispense controlled substances use computer applications that meet federal security requirements, which includes a third-party audit or DEA certification.
* DEA-approved pharmacy management applications do not require access controls.
* Even if electronic prescriptions are mandated, there are circumstances under which you will be allowed to accept a paper prescription.
* The DEA does not require compounded medications that contain a controlled substance ingredient to be prescribed via electronic means.
* In New York, non-prescription items that require prescriptions for reimbursement by third-party payers, such as durable medical equipment (DME), must also be transmitted to providers electronically.