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E-prescribing of controlled substances on sharp rise

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances, or EPCS, such as opioids increased dramatically in 2015, according to Surescripts Inc., the national pharmacy IT network.

ECPS is now allowed in all 50 states, and the number of EPCS transactions rose from 1.67 million 12.8 million last year, a 600% increase, according to a Surescripts release accompanying the company’s 2015 National  Progress Report.

Meanwhile, the number of EPCS-anabled prescrbers rose 359%, from 15,195 at the end of 2014 to 69,800 at the end of 2015, according to Surescripts.

However, EPCS-enabled pharmacies and physicians are not uniformly distributed across the country.

EPCS is well established in Northeast states such as New York — which ranked number 1 with 91% of pharmacies enabled — and Massachusetts, as well as in California and Texas, for example.

Lagging, however, are southeast states such as Georgia and Florida, which ranked 44th in the Surescripts survey with 73% of pharmacies enabled. Also low in the rankings are Montana and North Dakota.

As of December 2015, opiods accounted for 32% of all EPCS prescriptions. Opioid abuse was involved in some 28,647 deaths in 2014 and opioid overdoses quadrupled from 2010 to 2014, according to sources cited by Surescripts.

So while EPCS has become common, most prescribers of controlled substances, including not only opioids but also other potentially addictive controlled drugs such as Xanax and Adderall, are still using paper prescriptions.

EPCS is a safer and more controllable way of prescribing controlled drugs because it sharply cuts down on fraud and improper prescribing, according to Surescripts.