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Senators Hassan, Mullin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic by Strengthening Standards for Prescribing Controlled Substances

WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) recently introduced bipartisan legislation to require electronic prescriptions for all Schedule II-IV controlled substances, including opioids. Electronic prescribing of these substances can enhance patient safety and deter fraud. These medications have a higher potential for misuse – and electronic prescriptions can help stop doctor shopping, in which people get duplicative prescriptions either for their own use or to sell on the black market.

“We must eliminate the potential for prescriptions – especially for opioids – to be diverted or falsified,” said Senator Hassan. “New Hampshire and many states already require electronic prescriptions because they have been shown to increase patient safety and help ensure that prescription drugs do not fall into the wrong hands. This bipartisan legislation would make sure that this commonsense measure is adopted nationwide.”

“These substances are controlled for a reason,” said Senator Mullin. “We should be doing all we can to increase the safety and quality of the prescribing process to improve patient outcomes, and I am confident in the ability of EPCS to do just that. I want to thank Senator Hassan for joining me in this effort.”

The Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances Act (EPCS 2.0) expands to private insurers the existing requirement for Medicare providers to use electronic prescription for all Schedule II-IV controlled substances, while including protections for patients to choose their own pharmacy and exceptions for pharmacies with difficulty accessing internet and other technological barriers. Electronic prescriptions have been shown to reduce fraud.

This bipartisan bill is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. She successfully worked to pass into law the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act to increase the number of medical professionals authorized to prescribe the gold standard of opioid treatment. Senator Hassan and a bipartisan group of Senators also called on the DEA to take further action to remove barriers to this treatment. Earlier this year, Senator Hassan visited Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras as part of a bipartisan Congressional Delegation trip where she spoke with foreign officials about the need to crack down on fentanyl and other drug trafficking. Senator Hassan also worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided critical tools to Customs and Border Protection to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids.