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E-prescribing now legal nationwide

Vermont recently became the 50th state to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).

Amid a national furor over abuse of prescription opioid-based drugs, the Green Mountain State’s move comes as good news for state and local government officials combatting what they see as an opioid epidemic, and also for Surescripts Inc., the dominant e-prescribing company.

“Care providers, pharmacies and government officials are working together to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic that plagues our nation,” Tom Skelton, CEO of Surescripts, said in a release. “Throwing out the prescription pad and opting for an electronic process makes it easier for patients to get the medications they need while helping to prevent fraud and abuse.”

But while EPCS is in every state now, its use still lags behind e-prescribing of non-controlled drugs, which has become commonplace among both physicians and pharmacists.

That is likely mostly because of tough security standards set by the , which bans phoning in scripts for controlled substances, such as painkillers Vicodin and OxyContin, and requires higher cybersecurity controls as well.

And only 10 states have certified a substantial number of e-prescribers.

To boost that number (and presumably its business, though there’s nothing wrong with that, of course), Surescripts has kicked off a campaign to inform docs about what they need to do to get started with EPCS.

Check out this Surescripts site for guidance on how physicians can evaluate EHRs certified for EPCS, get identity proofing and signing credentials, and set access controls.

According to Surescripts, progress is being made in acceptance of ECPS.

In the first half of 2015, the company processed 4 million prescriptions for controlled substances, nearly four times the number it processed in all of 2014.