DEA Clarifies Its Guidance Regarding Pharmacies Forwarding Unfilled Electronic Prescriptions

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently clarified for pharmacists its guidance regarding forwarding unfilled electronic prescriptions (EPCS) for controlled substances. In an email from Loren Miller, an Associate Section Chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, to Carmen Catizone, CEO of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), Loren stated,

“The DEA published information in the preamble of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on EPCS, 73 FR 36722, and the preamble of the interim final rule (IFR) on EPCS, 75 FR 16235. Note, because this was in the preamble and not in the EPCS regulations, it represents the DEA’s policy. As posted in the preambles of the NPRM and the IFR, an unfilled original EPCS prescription can be forwarded from one DEA registered retail pharmacy to another DEA registered retail pharmacy, and this includes Schedule II controlled substances.”

Thus, all unfilled electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, including Schedule II controlled substances, can be forwarded to another DEA registered retail pharmacy, in order for the second pharmacy to fill the controlled substance prescription, if the originating pharmacy cannot fill the prescription. It should be noted that since this is only contained in the preamble, it is not binding law but the DEA’s policy.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has applauded the guidance provided by the DEA, stating,

“Simply put, this guidance encourages the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances, and removes a substantial barrier to doing so. Electronic prescribing has significant advantages over other forms of transmitting a prescription because it reduces opportunities for fraud and abuse.”

If you are a Pharmacy and would like more information as to how this affects your pharmacy or how best to operationalize this, contact Frier Levitt today.

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