Senators urge end to fight over e-prescribing controlled substances

For a couple of years now, regulatory agencies and legislators have been wrangling over e-prescribing. On the whole, legislators and health officials seem pretty convinced that e-prescribing is a very good thing, while regulatory types seem to view it with caution.

The biggest sticking point all along has been how to manage the issue of prescribing controlled substances electronically. The feds, especially the DEA, have been reluctant to let that happen, arguing that e-prescribing such substances wouldn't offer enough control and could lead to higher levels of illegal use. Unfortunately, though, as long as e-prescribing controlled substances isn't possible, adoption will remain low, as doctors don't like doing most of their prescribing online then switching to paper for the small percentage of scripts they write for OxyContin and the like.

In summer of 2008, the DEA was pushed and prodded into finally issuing rules that would govern e-prescribing. Then, argue some critics, DEA officials basically sat on them.

Now, after waiting almost a year, a group of 11 Senators has said "enough already," writing a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder urging them to go ahead and approve some kind of e-prescribing for controlled substances regs. The authors, which include Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) argue that e-prescribing is an "important piece of the puzzle" in effecting ongoing health reforms, and that it's a "logical gateway" to a larger, interconnected health network.

To learn more about the Senators' initiative:
- read this iHealthBeat piece