Why EPCS is Important in the Battle against Drug Diversion

Posted by: Do Lee August 17, 2015 EPCS, Healthcare

The EPCS Landscape

Through the adoption of electronic prescribing (eRX), health IT vendors are improving medication safety, providing better management of medication cost, and improving prescription accuracy, efficiency and convenience.

Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) is legal in almost all 50 states, and mandated in New York. In conjunction with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), EPCS works with your electronic health record (EHR), and enables tracking of prescription refills, drug interactions and improved patient care.

The Opioid Epidemic

Controlled substances compose 12 percent of all prescriptions made each year. Prescription drug abuse has increased the need for compliance and safety; deaths from drug overdoses have increased 117%. Addressing opioid abuse is now a high priority for the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the CDC:

Every day in the United States, 44 people die as a result of prescription opioid overdose.

  • Men were more likely to die from prescription opioid overdose, but the mortality gap between men and women is closing.
  • Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2013. Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.
  • There were 43,982 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2013. Of these, 22,767 (51.8%) were related to prescription drugs.
  • Drug misuse and abuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits in 2011. Of these, more than 1.4 million ED visits were related to prescription drugs.
  • Nearly two million Americans, aged 12 or older, either abused or were dependent on opioid painkillers in 2013.

In the United States, prescription opioid abuse costs were about $55.7 billion in 2007. Of this amount, 46% was attributable to workplace costs (e.g., lost productivity), 45% to healthcare costs (e.g., abuse treatment), and 9% to criminal justice costs.

Go ‘Head: Increase those Positive Outcomes!

In response to these rising challenges the DEA legalized EPCS, BUT under strict technical requirements. Providers must undergo stringent identity proofing and utilize a two-factor authentication (2fa) when prescribing. Providers can, of course, do this through their EHR vendor if they have adopted these standards. These requirements are in place to help fight drug diversion and abuse.

And things are progressing quickly:

According to, electronic prescriptions for controlled substances is increasing by an average of 3,000 prescriptions monthly, with a monthly average of 700 pharmacies jumping onboard as well. Everyone wants to do their part in curbing drug diversion, that’s why there are an average of 300 new providers signing up for EPCS each month. Join Them! Fight Diversion and Improve Care! #FightDrugDiversion

Information from:

The Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances is on the rise