Arlington, Va. – The U.S. Senate today passed a package of measures focused on the opioid abuse epidemic, including the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (S. 2460), which is backed by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). The legislation would require electronic prescribing for Schedule II through V controlled substances prescriptions covered under Medicare Part D to help prevent fraud, abuse and waste – with limited exceptions to ensure patient access.
The U.S. House of Representatives also has passed its companion of the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (H.R. 3528) as part of a larger package, and the two chambers now will need to negotiate final comprehensive legislation.
“NACDS appreciates the bipartisan approach to advancing electronic prescribing as one aspect of opioid-abuse prevention. NACDS recommends greater reliance on electronic prescribing for this purpose, based on pharmacists’ first-hand experiences on the front lines of healthcare delivery. This is an important part of the comprehensive effort to keep opioids out of the wrong hands, and we are thankful for the sponsors’ leadership of this legislation in the Senate and in the House of Representatives,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE.
Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced S. 2460, with the original co-sponsorship of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). H.R. 3528 was introduced by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK).
Of importance, state legislatures and executive branches are taking action to advance electronic prescribing as well. Six states have enacted some sort of mandatory electronic prescribing legislation this year, bringing the total number of states with some sort of NACDS-backed provision to 12. Legislation is pending in other states. Reflective of the journey toward greater use of electronic prescribing as a safeguard, NACDS was on the leading edge of working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances. Until 2010, it was not even allowed.
In a January 2018 national survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS, 76 percent supported rules that all prescriptions must be handled electronically, rather than by paper or fax, as a way to help address the opioid abuse epidemic. Consistent with the bipartisan nature of the legislation’s support in Congress, the support for the bill among survey respondents was consistently high across individuals of different political ideologies and affiliations.
Expanding electronic prescribing for controlled substances is among the policy recommendations issued by NACDS to complement longstanding and ongoing pharmacy initiatives to prevent opioid abuse, including compliance programs; pioneering e-prescribing; drug disposal; patient education; security initiatives; fostering naloxone access; stopping illegal online drug-sellers and rogue clinics; and more.