Legislation has been introduced in the Senate that would require healthcare providers to use electronic prescribing for opioids and other controlled substances for Medicare Part D transactions beginning in 2020.

The Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act, S.2460, co-sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), is the latest legislative effort to combat opioid overdoses.

“An epidemic of this magnitude requires us to address all aspects of the problem, starting with how providers prescribe opioids,” said Bennet in a written statement. “This bipartisan legislation would expand a critical tool to track the use of opioids, ultimately reducing overdoses and saving lives.”

According to the senators, e-prescribing for controlled substances would “generate real-time information on opioid use and streamline the prescription process for both providers and their patients,” as well as “reduce the number of opioids obtained through fraudulent prescriptions or doctor shopping.”

Also See: E-prescribing of controlled substances seen as easy, safe

Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) have introduced companion legislation, H.R. 3528, in the House of Representatives.

Snezana Mahon, vice president of clinical product development for pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, testified on Tuesday before the Senate health committee that e-prescribing has been demonstrated to dramatically reduce medication errors and fraud.

“Mandating e-prescribing controlled substances would restrict pharmacy shopping, enable better prescription tracking, and reduce fraud and waste as well,” Mahon told senators during a hearing on the opioid crisis and the role of technology and data in preventing opioid addiction.

She said Express Scripts “supports H.R. 3528, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, as it would move Medicare to a system of mandatory e-prescribing for opioids, as this would go a long way towards saving lives and stopping addiction by eliminating the possibility of fraudulent paper claims.”

Mahon noted that New York State has mandated e-prescribing for both controlled and non-controlled substances. “What we have seen in our data, looking at the 2017 data in our claims, is that 89.8 percent of all controlled substances are now being e-prescribed in the state of New York, compared to only 21 percent nationally,” she added. “Having this information is going to be critical and crucial in helping identify, track and managed these controlled substances—that today we certainly do not have the ability to do so.”

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