DEA proposes rules to allow for e-prescribing

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DEA seeks comments on potential rules for e-prescribing. Source: Today's Senior Network  

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Friday issued a proposed rule that would allow the electronic prescribing of controlled substances. The agency will accept public comments until Sept. 25.

The proposed rules, as explained in a 62-page Federal Register notice, would require doctors to use two forms of identification for each transmission of e-prescriptions for controlled substances, in addition to an annual audit of each system by a certified public accountancy, according to Government Health IT.

The regulations would permit pharmacies to receive, dispense and archive the e-prescriptions. The proposed regulations would be an addition to, not a replacement of, the existing rules.

The DEA said that the regulations provide pharmacies, hospitals and practitioners to use contemporary technology for controlled substance prescriptions while maintaining the closed system of controls on dispensing. Also, the proposed regulations would reduce paperwork for DEA registrants, who dispense or prescribe controlled substances and have the potential to reduce prescription forgery.

The rules call for doctors and other prescribers to have their identity verified in person at a DEA-registered hospital that has granted the doctor privileges to practice at the hospital, a state professional board, licensing board or a state/local law enforcement agency, according to Government Health IT. 

With their identity verified, doctors could e-prescribe by using two-factor authentication, which means using a password in addition to a device in the doctor’s possession that "could be a [personal digital assistant], a cell phone, a smart card, a thumb drive or multifactor one-time password token,” the proposed rules state.

The proposed regulations could reduce the number of prescription errors caused by illegible handwriting and misunderstood oral prescriptions. Moreover, they could help both pharmacies and hospitals to integrate prescription records into other medical records more directly.

If it becomes final, the DEA rule would allow doctors to use the same system for generating and transmitting all prescriptions, Government Health IT reported.