Many doctors in Oregon can and do now order prescriptions for their patients electronically. The Legislature should take one more step to allow an additional category of drugs to be e-prescribed.
E-prescription is basically just using a secure, email-like system to send orders for patients to pharmacies.
It also can do much more.
Prescribers using these sorts of systems can access a patient’s benefit information — the drugs covered and eligibility — and pick a drug that fits. If a patient consents, the prescriber can electronically access a patient’s medication history to look for drug-to-drug conflicts or allergies. A prescriber can also get a sense from that information how good a patient is about keeping up with medication.
There could be an increase in accuracy of the prescription information when it is typed rather than written out. E-prescriptions can help to prevent fraud and abuse, too.
Many Oregon patients and providers already use e-prescriptions. About a quarter of the eligible prescriptions in Oregon were routed electronically in 2010, according to data from a company called Surescripts. In 2012, the number was 53 percent.
But when Oregon authorized the use of e-prescribing, it did not include Schedule II drugs. Schedule II drugs have a medical use and a high potential for abuse, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. They may lead to severe physical or psychological dependence. They include drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, OxyContin, methadone, Percocet and Ritalin.
At a hearing Monday of a legislative health committee, nobody seemed to know why Schedule II drugs were not included. Testimony included representatives from law enforcement and medicine — a district attorney and representatives from the state and the Oregon pharmacy association.
None of the people testifying offered any reasons why the Schedule II drugs should not be included. News reports indicate growing pains as a new system is implemented. As long as that is all there is, adding Schedule II drugs to e-prescriptions should be a straightforward bill for the Legislature next year.