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Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances
August 13, 2012

Final-omitted regulations published in the August 11 Pennsylvania Bulletin permit electronic prescribing of Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances upon publication. The electronic transmission is considered a written prescription order on a prescription blank and may be accepted by a pharmacist. This rulemaking by the State Board of Pharmacy removes the last regulatory barrier to electronic prescribing of controlled substances. Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Pennsylvania Department of Health Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act requirements had previously permitted electronic prescribing.

Pharmacies may, but are not required, to accept electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. Pharmacies may incur costs in technology or in application for submission of electronic prescriptions that meet DEA requirements. However, many pharmacies that accept electronic prescriptions for other than controlled substances may already have technology available.

Prescriptions for controlled substances are required to have the DEA number of the prescriber and those transmitted by electronic means are required to have the electronic signature of the prescriber. In an institution, record of the receipt of Schedule II controlled substances must be maintained for two years. An electronic prescription is defined in 49 PA Code § 27.201(a) as “the communication of an original prescription or refill authorization by electronic means, to include computer-to-computer, computer-to-facsimile machine or e-mail transmission which contains the same information it contained when the authorized prescriber transmitted it. The term does not include a prescription or refill authorization transmitted by telephone or facsimile machine.”

Although this is a final-omitted rule, comment will be accepted by the State Board of Pharmacy for 30 days following publication. Address comments or questions to Kerry Maloney, counsel, State Board of Pharmacy (PO Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649 or 717-783-7200).

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