New York State's Mandatory Electronic Prescribing Takes Effect

The new requirement, considered a key component of New York's I-STOP initiative to reduce misuse of prescription medications in the state, "will improve patient safety, reduce the number of fraudulent or stolen prescriptions, and help combat prescription drug abuse across New York," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said March 17 when he announced the effective date.

As of March 27, 2016, all prescriptions written in New York State must be transmitted electronically from the prescriber directly to the pharmacy. The new requirement, considered a key component of New York's I-STOP initiative to reduce misuse of prescription medications in the state, "will improve patient safety, reduce the number of fraudulent or stolen prescriptions, and help combat prescription drug abuse across New York," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said March 17 when he announced the effective date. "Addiction can affect anyone from any walk of life and this administration will continue to use every tool it can to combat this epidemic and provide help to those in need," he added.

This change means prescriptions will no longer be handwritten or called in to a pharmacy, except in limited situations such as during disasters, technological or electrical failures, and other exceptional circumstances. When exceptional circumstances require written prescriptions, prescribers still must use Official New York State Prescription forms and document the reason for use of the paper script each time. State officials say patients who want to get the best prices for their medications can still comparison shop before asking their doctor to send their prescriptions to their preferred pharmacy, and that more than 60,000 prescribers are already e-prescribing. Prescribers are registering their certified software with the New York State Department of Health.

Because extra time was needed for some to make the switch, Cuomo signed a bill in March 2015 granting a one-year extension for prescribers to comply with the requirement.

"Digital securities such as e-prescribing and prescription monitoring promote safe and efficient medication administration that both providers and their patients will appreciate. These policies demonstrate that DOH's priority is always the safety and well-being of patients," State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.

I-STOP requires prescribers to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program Registry when writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. The registry provides practitioners with direct, secure access to view dispensed controlled substance prescription histories for patients in real time. It is available 24/7, and the data are used to identify potential sources of prescription drug diversion or abuse, including prescription fraud. According to the department, as of the end of 2015, I-STOP has brought about a 90 percent decrease in the number of patients who visit multiple prescribers and pharmacies to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances within a three-month time period.

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