Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that beginning March 27, all prescriptions written in New York State must now be transmitted electronically from the prescriber directly to the pharmacy. This requirement is a key component of New York's I-STOP initiative that is focused on helping curb the abuse of prescription medication throughout the state.
"This reform will improve patient safety, reduce the number of fraudulent or stolen prescriptions, and help combat prescription drug abuse across New York," Governor Cuomo said. "Addiction can affect anyone from any walk of life and this administration will continue to use every tool it can to combat this epidemic and provide help to those in need."
As of March 27, prescriptions will no longer be handwritten or called in to the pharmacy, except in limited situations such as during disasters, technological or electrical failures, and other exceptional circumstances. In exceptional circumstances requiring written prescriptions, prescribers must still use Official New York State Prescription forms and document the reason for use of the paper script each time. Prescribers with waivers are exceptions to the e-prescribe mandate. Patients seeking the best prices for their medications can still comparison-shop before asking their doctor to send their prescriptions to their preferred pharmacy.
More than 60,000 prescribers are already e-prescribing and prescribers continue to register their certified software with the New York State Department of Health. Understanding that extra time was needed for some to make the switch from paper to electronic, Governor Cuomo signed legislation in March 2015 granting a one-year extension for these prescribers to comply with the requirement.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Digital securities such as e-prescribing and prescription monitoring promote safe and efficient medication administration that both providers and their patients will appreciate. These policies demonstrate that DOH's priority is always the safety and well-being of patients."
I-STOP requires prescribers to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program Registry when writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. The Registry provides practitioners with direct, secure access to view dispensed controlled substance prescription histories for patients in real time. It is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week via an application on the Health Commerce System. The data is further used to identify potential sources of prescription drug diversion or abuse, including prescription fraud. As of the end of 2015, I-STOP has led to a 90 percent decrease in the number of "doctor shoppers" or patients who visit multiple prescribers and pharmacies to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances within a three-month time period.