You are currently viewing Opioid Electronic Prescribing Law Passes in Arkansas
Arkansas State ePrescribing Law Pases

Opioid Electronic Prescribing Law Passes in Arkansas

Prescriptions for controlled substances such as opioids and narcotics will be moved to a paperless, e-prescription system by 2021 under a bill which just passed in the Arkansas Legislature.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), Arkansas ranks second among all U.S. states in opioid prescription rates and opioid abuse by youths. Both the Attorney General’s office, and a coalition of counties and cities across Arkansas filed lawsuits against drug makers alleging that the companies’ actions contributed to the crisis.

Electronic prescribing provides many benefits including the ability to conduct forensic reviews of historical data to identify drug seeking behavior and out of compliance prescribers and pharmacies. There are challenges in rural areas where legitimate chronic pain patient needs may not be met. Rural areas without the electronic prescribing and internet access may not be able to receive and fill presriptions.

These concerns were raised by several committee members about the effectiveness of an electronic system in rural areas and in the event of a natural disaster. Their concerns hinged on another set of statistics provided by Lane: That while almost all pharmacists can receive electronic prescriptions, only 66 percent of health care providers are set up to use the system.

“I have a problem at this day and time with the technology,” said Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron. “It’s far from being complete for rural Arkansas.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) endorsed the enactment of an electronic prescribing bill (SB 174), for controlled substance prescriptions for Schedule II through Schedule VI, which will help prevent opioid abuse. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed the bill into law March 13, which will become effective January 1, 2021. 

According to NACDS, State Sen. Kim Hammer (R), sponsor of the Senate bill; State Rep. Justin Boyd (R), a pharmacist and sponsor of the bill in the House; Kirk Lane, Arkansas drug director; and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, were instrumental in getting the legislation passed.

The legislation enjoys popular and nonpartisan support in the state for mandatory e-prescribing. A January 2019 survey, conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS, found that 64 percent of Arkansas registered voters support rules that all prescriptions must be handled electronically, rather than by paper or fax, to reduce the likelihood of fraud and abuse. Only 20 percent indicated opposition.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, said: “Fifteen states have enacted e-prescribing legislation as part of the opioid-abuse solution, and we congratulate Arkansas for helping to lead the way on this critical issue.” 

President Trump signed into law federal legislation in 2018—the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6)—which includes provisions of the NACDS-backed Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act. The new federal law requires electronic prescribing for Schedule II through V controlled substances prescriptions covered under Medicare Part D to help prevent fraud, abuse and waste – with limited exceptions to ensure patient access.

Reflective of the path toward greater use of electronic prescribing as a safeguard, NACDS was on the leading edge of working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to allow electronic prescribing of controlled substances. Until 2010, it was not allowed.

NACDS’ policy recommendations to help address the opioid-abuse epidemic reflect pharmacists’ firsthand experiences on the frontlines of care, as well as extensive collaboration with law enforcement. In addition to e-prescribing, NACDS’ recommendations involve drug disposal, prescription drug monitoring plans, and limits on initial fills of opioid prescriptions for acute pain.

The policy recommendations issued by NACDS are part of a strategy to improve adherence to provisions of the Controlled Substances Act which include drug disposal; patient education; security initiatives; fostering naloxone access; stopping illegal online drug-sellers and providers who dispense improperly without cross-checking State prescribing databases.

Related Topics

Pain Management and Opioid Audit Protocol to identify drug seeking behavior and prevent drug diversion

Pain Management expert witness

Michael F. Arrigo

Michael Arrigo brings four decades of experience in the software, financial services, and healthcare industries. In 2000, Mr. Arrigo founded No World Borders, a healthcare data, regulations, and economics firm with clients in the pharmaceutical, medical device, hospital, surgical center, physician group, diagnostic imaging, genetic testing, health IT, and health insurance markets. His expertise spans the federal health programs Medicare and Medicaid and private insurance. He advises Medicare Advantage Organizations who provide health insurance under Part C of the Medicare Act. Mr. Arrigo serves as an expert witness regarding medical coding and medical billing, fraud damages, as well as electronic health record software for the U.S. Department of Justice. He has valued well over $1 billion in medical billings in personal injury liens, medical malpractice, insurance fraud cases. The U.S. Court of Appeals considered Mr. Arrigo's opinion regarding loss amounts, vacating, and remanding sentencing in a fraud case. Mr. Arrigo provides expertise in the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, Medicare LCDs, anti-trust litigation, medical intellectual property and trade secrets, HIPAA privacy, health care electronic claim data Standards, physician compensation, Anti-Kickback Statute, Stark law, the Affordable Care Act, False Claims Act, and the ARRA HITECH Act. Arrigo advises investors on merger and acquisition (M&A) diligence in the healthcare industry on transactions cumulatively valued at over $1 billion. Mr. Arrigo spent over ten years in Silicon Valley software firms in roles from Product Manager to CEO. He was product manager for a leading-edge database technology joint venture that became commercialized as Microsoft SQL Server, Vice President of Marketing for a software company when it grew from under $2 million in revenue to a $50 million acquisition by a company now merged into Cincom Systems, hired by private equity investors to serve as Vice President of Marketing for a secure email software company until its acquisition and multi $million investor exit by a company now merged into Axway Software SA (Euronext: AXW.PA), and CEO of one of the first cloud-based billing software companies, licensing its technology to Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS). Later, before entering the healthcare industry, he joined Fortune 500 company Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF) as a Vice President, overseeing eCommerce solutions for the mortgage banking industry. While serving as a Vice President at Fortune 500 company First American Financial (NYSE: FAF), he oversaw eCommerce and regulatory compliance technology initiatives for top ten mortgage banks and led the Sarbanes Oxley Act Section 302 internal controls IT audit for the company, supporting Section 404 of the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Mr. Arrigo earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Before that, he studied computer science, statistics, and economics at the University of California, Irvine. His post-graduate studies include biomedical ethics at Harvard Medical School, biomedical informatics at Stanford Medical School, blockchain and crypto economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and training as a Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA). Mr. Arrigo is qualified to serve as a director due to his experience in healthcare data, regulations, and economics, his leadership roles in software and financial services public companies, and his healthcare M&A diligence and public company regulatory experience. Mr. Arrigo is quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Kaiser Health News, Consumer Affairs, National Public Radio (NPR), NBC News Houston, USA Today / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Medical Economics, Capitol ForumThe Daily Beast, the Lund Report, Inside Higher Ed, New England Psychologist, and other press and media outlets. He authored a peer-reviewed article regarding clinical documentation quality to support accurate medical coding, billing, and good patient care, published by Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and is published in Healthcare IT News.

Leave a Reply