N.Y. lawmakers push for one-year delay on electronic prescribing requirement

E-prescribing aims to curb pharmaceutical fraud, but some say pharmacies aren't prepared

As providers and pharmacists in New York prepare for a state-wide electronic prescribing mandate set to go into effect this month, state lawmakers are pushing to extend the deadline another year, thanks to a recent bill that awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) signature.

In 2012, New York passed the law known as the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP), which requires all patient medications to be electronically prescribed, including controlled substances, by March 27, 2015. The law aims to curb rampant fraud and abuse associated with prescription drugs by halting practices such as doctor shopping. Last year, New York announced that provisions of I-STOP had already reduced doctor shopping by 75 percent, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

"This is the part of the system that faces the most challenges in terms of fraud," Tom Skelton, CEO of SureScripts, an e-prescribing technology company, told Fortune. Just last week, 12 Pennsylvania residents were charged in connection with a drug diversion scheme in which a physician wrote more than 400 fraudulent prescriptions, according to the state attorney general.

Although most states allow for e-prescribing, New York would be the second state to mandate the practice. In 2011, a similar law was unveiled in Minnesota.

Others are concerned that pharmacies are not prepared for the March 27 deadline. A January report by DrFirst, an e-prescribing management system vendor, indicated that, although providers are prepared for the transition, the pharmacy industry still lags behind. Only 58 percent of pharmacies are able to support controlled substance e-prescribing, according to the report.

The bill delivered to Gov. Cuomo at the beginning of the month echoes similar concerns. Legislators argue that the Drug Enforcement Agency "moved slowly" in certifying vendors authorized to transmit electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. Although providers have the capability to prescribe drugs electronically, many of the vendors they use have not received federal certification.

Previous reports show that the global market for e-prescribing is expected to grow from $250.2 million in 2013 to $887.8 million in 2019, but issues such as implementation costs remain as a primary barrier to adoption in ambulatory practices

For more:
- here's the recent bill
- read the Fortune article
- here's the Pennsylvania Attorney General statement
- see the DrFirst report

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