New York has become the second state to require electronic prescribing, in an effort to combat the opioid addiction epidemic. Minnesota has required e-prescribing since 2011, Marketwatch reports.
Only two other states – Massachusetts and Maine – are currently considering similar requirements, the article notes.
Under New York’s new law, all prescriptions in the state must be issued electronically after late March. The effort is aimed at reducing forged prescriptions. Lawmakers hope the measure will also reinforce the state’s drug prescription monitoring system, which is designed to cut down on “doctor shopping” by patients seeking multiple prescriptions.
Only 1.4 percent of providers nationwide were equipped to e-prescribe controlled substances, including opioid painkillers, in 2014, according to the electronic prescription network Surescripts.
Doctors say implementing e-prescribing is both complicated and expensive. “E-prescribing in the right circumstances is fast, efficient and liked by patients and pharmacists and physicians. But there are many circumstances where there are challenges,” said Dr. Steven Stack, President of the American Medical Association.
Stack said he opposes mandating use of e-prescribing. He noted the software can be difficult for small doctors’ office to obtain. He added there are problems with coordination between doctors’ offices and pharmacies.
If a patient’s pharmacy is closed, there is no easy way to have an e-prescription transferred to another location, acknowledged Surescripts Senior Vice President, Ken Whittemore, Jr. “With any technology, things improve the longer it’s used,” he said. “There are some things we’ll have to work through.”
Stack said because of this problem, he believes e-prescribing is currently best used for nonemergency medications, such as blood pressure or diabetes drugs, instead of controlled substances to treat intense pain.