EPCS: Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances

EPCS: Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) is now legal in all 50 states. While the federal DrugOrthopaedic EHR - iPadEnforcement Agency (DEA) passed legislation legalizing EPCS in 2010, states were slow to reverse their prohibitions against EPCS within their individual jurisdictions.

New York State has taken the EPCS lead with its I-STOP program (Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing), mandating that all prescriptions—including those for controlled substances—be electronically transmitted to pharmacies effective March 27, 2016. Pharmacies in New York will no longer fill prescriptions that are printed, phoned-in, or faxed.

Due to the nature of controlled substances, additional security measures are necessary for the prescribing of these medications:

  • Physicians must validate their identity (and prescribing authority) by dual-factor authentication. A combination of 2 of the following 3 is required:
    • something you know, e.g., a password;
    • something you have, e.g., a token; or
    • something you are, e.g., biometrics such as fingerprint, iris scan, or voice.
  • Prescribing software must be certified for EPCS.
  • Pharmacy software must also be certified to accept electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. Approximately 80% of pharmacies nationwide are now so enabled.