Standing in front of the joint session of Congress, President Trump vowed to end America’s “terrible drug epidemic.” The same week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed legislation mandating statewide electronic prescribing of controlled substances by 2020. The legislation, along with the executive’s mention of the devastating problem, signals an emerging trend: state and federal government officials are taking action against opioid addiction and are using EPCS as a vehicle to curb the rising death toll.
Opioid Addiction & EPCS
The focus on America’s growing opioid addiction problem is well-warranted. Recent Centers for Disease Control figures show that more than 15,000 Americans die from a prescription opioid overdose every year. Providers are on the front lines of this new battle in the war on drugs, struggling to both control patient pain and curb addictive habits. EPCS, along with participation in state prescription drug monitoring programs, help shoulder some of this weighty responsibility by helping providers track individual patient CS prescriptions — regardless of the prescribing physician or the pharmacy used to obtain the medication.
The new Virginia legislation comes on the heels of Gov. McAuliffe declaring the addiction crisis a Virginia public health emergency in Nov. 2016. Along with the bill mandating EPCS by 2020, Gov. McAuliffe signed three other bills to better equip Virginia communities fighting addiction. These include policies that: 1) Allow community organizations to possess and dispense Naloxone; 2) Allow health departments to create harm-reduction programs that would provide clean syringes, access to addiction treatment, and testing for addiction-related disease; and 3) Create family assessments and care plans for babies exposed to controlled substances in utero, along with assisting their mothers.
Predicting Future Mandates
Virginia joins New York, Minnesota, and Maine in mandating EPCS. New York, a leader in health care policy, claims tremendous success in requiring EPCS and PDMP checks before prescribing opioids. The action resulted in a 75% decrease in an individuals’ “doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions. As these efforts continue to show success, experts predict more statewide policy changes. For example, in March 2017, Pennsylvania began considering similar legislation. Providers can ensure compliance by preparing for EPCS mandates before they happen. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances, along with PDMP access, can be easily integrated into existing prescribing workflows.
DrFirst EPCS with PDMP provides access to up to 12 months of medication history in seconds. To learn more, click here to start a conversation with DrFirst.
To learn more about the Virginia Legislation, click here.