DEA approves EHNAC to certify e-prescribing of controlled substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved the certification process for the electronic prescribing of controlled substances developed by the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC), according to an announcement posted Dec. 12, in the Federal Register.

The documentation of prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is an "essential" part of the closed system of distribution of controlled substances, according to the DEA. Historically, prescriptions for controlled substances had to be on paper.

The DEA issued an interim final rule in 2010 and a clarification that allowed for the electronic prescribing of controlled substances under certain circumstances. One of the requirements is that those applying to prescribe or dispense controlled substances electronically must be subject to a third-party audit.

Alternatively, an electronic prescription or pharmacy application may be verified and certified as meeting the requirements by a certifying organization. EHNAC, an independent federally recognized standards organization, now can serve as such a certifier. ENHAC, in 2012, released the certification program; its most recent certification/accreditation programs address health information exchanges and accountable care organizations.

Electronic prescribing is a primary objective of the Meaningful Use program, and eligible professionals can choose to include all prescriptions, or only permissible ones, so long as the decision applies to all patients and for the entire electronic health record reporting period. Any prescription not subject to the DEA's controlled-substances rules is permissible, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Some physicians have shied away from electronic prescribing of controlled substances, in part because of the onerous identification proofing process that needs to be conducted by DEA's approved certifying organizations.  

To learn more:
- read the Federal Register notice (.pdf)
- here's the interim final rule
- check out the CMS guidance (.pdf)