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NACDS urges action to curb prescription drug misuse, abuse

Comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services call for enforcement of electronic prescribing of controlled substances requirements no later than Jan. 1, 2023.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to act without further delay and enforce Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances requirements for Medicare Part D covered prescriptions no later than Jan. 1, 2023.

NACDS urged that CMS begin swift enforcement of Section 2003 of the SUPPORT Act, particularly given the vital role of electronic prescribing in helping to improve safety and security in the prescribing process and to curb prescription drug misuse and abuse, among the policies that NACDS commented on to CMS in response to the proposed 2023 Physician Fee Schedule.

“Timely enforcement of the federal EPCS mandate is essential to supporting the nation’s ongoing fight against drug abuse and diversion, especially now when these problems have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency,” NACDS said in the comment letter.

[Read more: NACDS applauds passage of Opiod Prescription Verification Act]

When Congress originally enacted the SUPPORT Act in 2018, lawmakers established that the EPCS requirements created under Section 2003 would apply beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. Four years after enactment of the law, in the proposed calendar year 2023 payment policies under the Physician Fee Schedule, CMS has proposed to delay the enforcement timeline for a third time, NACDS said.

NACDS also recently signed on to a letter led by the Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances Coalition requesting that CMS “adhere to its commitment in the CY 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule to commence compliance actions in CY 2023 by sending notices to non-exempted prescribers that have not used EPCS for at least 70% of their prescriptions for controlled substances.”

NACDS is lauding U.S. Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) for introducing the E-Prescribing Parity for Controlled Substances Act (EPCS 2.0/H.R. 8988). The NACDS-backed bill would help ensure that all controlled substance prescriptions are conveyed electronically, not just those for Medicare Part D.

[Read more: NACDS praises Maryland e-prescribing law to help prevent opioid abuse] 

Importantly, passage of EPCS 2.0 would move prescribers away from paper prescriptions, thereby decreasing opportunities for diversion, enhancing safety and leading to greater healthcare savings, NACDS said.

The organization said that it remains committed to the use of electronic prescriptions for all medications, especially controlled substances, and continues to advocate for policies that would enhance Americans’ access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

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