Rise in Opioid Deaths Driving Changes in Prescribing

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. According to the CDC, since 2000 the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). The proliferation of the epidemic is leading some states to rethink legislation governing opioid prescriptions.

New York: I-STOP Deadline Days Away

The days of doctors writing prescriptions and patients taking them to the pharmacy are coming to an end in New York. Starting this Sunday (March 27, 2016), Doctors in New York State will be required to write all prescriptions, not just for controlled substances, electronically and transmit them directly to the pharmacy. The law is intended to help streamline processes and crack down on prescription fraud and abuse.

In addition to the e-prescribing requirement, doctors will also be required to query the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) before prescribing controlled substances. The PMP Registry provides doctors with direct, secure access to view dispensed controlled substance prescription histories for their patients.

What this means for your practice? Starting next week, you will no longer be allowed to write any prescriptions by hand, except in exceptional circumstances like natural disasters or electrical failures. Compliance is mandatory and carries with it the possibility of severe penalties for failure to comply, including, but not limited to, loss of license, civil penalties and/or criminal charges. If you need help with compliance, contact us today to get started.

Massachusetts Enacts Legislation on Limiting Opioid Prescriptions

Earlier this month, Massachusetts enacted comprehensive legislation to help combat opioid abuse deaths, which have reached crisis proportions in the Bay State. According to state health officials, opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts has increased 33% from 2012-2014.

The new legislation is the first of its kind to limit the quantities of opiates prescribed to a 7-day supply for a first time adult prescriptions and a 7-day limit on every opiate prescription for minors, with certain exceptions. The legislation also allows pharmacists to dispense a lesser quantity than prescribed. 

The law also includes a provision for a “Non-Opiate Directive Form,” which patients may complete to indicate that they do not want to be prescribed those drugs.   

The state is also expected to enact new rules to require prescribers to view the state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PMP) database before prescribing any Schedule II or III controlled substance.

The new mandate will be phased in during the 4th quarter of 2016.

What does this mean for my practice? Massachusetts new law will have a significant impact on your EHR and pharmacy systems. The law mandates that opiate prescriptions must include specific language stating that a patient can request a lesser amount than what was prescribed. If less is dispensed, the remainder of the prescription is void. The pharmacy must then notify the prescriber via an “interoperable EHR.” As a result, changes will be needed in your EHR on how this information is recorded and exchanged. As the specifics of the new law is unveiled, keep in close contact with your EHR provider on solutions that will help you stay compliant.