Mandatory e-prescribing could solve opioid abuse problem

Medicine

Most of the conversations around the growing opioid abuse problem in the United States are missing one important element: E-prescribing.

That’s according to Devon Herrik, Ph.D., a senior fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis, who writes that e-prescribing is a common sense solution that is basically being ignored.

“Mandatory e-prescribing of controlled substances adds electronic checks and balances to an existing system,” he writes.

It allows two-factor authentication for a prescription, sends that prescription to a specific pharmacy and a computer system at that pharmacy can ping the doctor to validate the prescription, Herrik notes.

E-prescribing, he adds, allows for improved accuracy of prescriptions by eliminating instances where handwriting can be unclear, and allows for better monitoring of drug regimens to watch for drug overuse.

Herrik does acknowledge that there are some barriers to nationwide e-prescribing. While most doctors have been able to e-prescribe noncontrolled substances for a while, regulations prevented the technology to be used for controlled substance prescribing. Even now that those regulations have been lifted, there are still many pharmacies and physicians who don’t have the software and protocols to send electronic prescriptions.

But states like New York, the first to make e-prescribing of controlled substances mandatory, Minnesota and Maine are paving the way for more widespread adoption of the practice, he writes, and the “next logical step is to integrate the two-factor authentication and tracking to inhibit abuse and diversion of prescription drugs to the illicit market.”

To learn more:
- check out Herrik's policy analysis