E-Prescribing: A Commonsense Solution to Opioid Abuse that Is Being Ignored

Congress has taken up the growing problem of opioid abuse. Yet for all the talk there appears to be little discussion of a commonsense solution: mandatory electronic prescribing (e-prescribing). This would allow doctors, pharmacies and law enforcement to better monitor inappropriate opioid use, drug-seeking behavior and reduce drug diversion. Transmitting prescriptions electronically is a way for doctors to directly communicate with pharmacies — rather than handing patients a paper form ripped from a pad. E-prescribing facilitates detection of doctor shopping. In addition, once a prescription for a chronic condition has been prescribed, refills should require less effort by doctors and patients. Mandatory electronic prescribing with tracking of controlled substances is a solution that policymakers should consider. New York State, Minnesota and Maine have taken that step and other states are considering similar moves. Many physicians and most pharmacies are already equipped to transmit or receive prescriptions electronically.

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