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New law mandates e-prescriptions for controlled substances

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will require practitioners to issue electronic prescriptions for controlled substances starting Thursday, Oct. 24.

Act 96 of 2018, passed into law on Oct. 24, 2018, eliminates paper prescriptions for all Schedule II through V drugs, which includes morphine, Adderall, Ritalin, oxycodone and many others. Exceptions include prescriptions for patients residing in nursing homes or residential health care facilities or technological failures that prevent e-prescriptions.

Officials hope the new requirement will not only be more efficient and improve the quality of patient care but also reduce fraud and help combat the opioid epidemic.

“I’m excited about this requirement primarily because it improves patient satisfaction,” said Dwayne Gallagher, manager of the pharmacy informatics team at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Patients and providers no longer have to coordinate patient pickup of a paper prescription, and in most cases, the prescription should be filled when the patient arrives at the pharmacy.”

Dr. Kristina Newport of the Palliative Care Center at Hershey Medical Center, agrees. “This makes a real difference in the lives of our patients ― particularly the ones with severe cancer-related pain who should not be wasting their time driving around picking up prescriptions.”

Other benefits include facilitating opioid stewardship, Gallagher said. “If I am writing a paper script for a sick patient, I’ll want to make sure they have enough medication. With e-prescriptions, I can prescribe smaller amounts knowing I can easily order more if necessary.”

Reducing the number of pills dispensed also reduces the risk of patient dependency and leftover medication falling into the wrong hands, Gallagher said.

“I sent my first controlled med script via the new e-prescribing protocol, and it was super easy,” said Dr. Sarah Nickolich at Penn State Health Medical Group ― Nyes Road Family Practice.

Find more information and resources on the ePrescribing page on the Infonet.

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