Diversion Control Division, US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration

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Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) Q&A

Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS)

Question: What is required to use electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (a.k.a. EPCS)?

Answer: On March 31, 2010, DEA published an interim final rule, Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (PDF), that provides practitioners with the option of using electronic prescription software applications to prescribe and dispense controlled substances. 75 FR 16235. Specifically, DEA regulations permit practitioners and pharmacies to select software applications, which meet the requirements of 21 CFR 1311 subpart C to issue, receive, dispense, and archive electronic prescriptions. Refer to 21 CFR part 1311 for further information on all the requirements for using EPCS. Practitioners must ensure that a selected EPCS software application also complies with State, local and tribal laws in the jurisdiction in which they are licensed to practice. EO-DEA186, October 5, 2020

Question: May an individual practitioner sign and transmit electronic prescriptions for controlled substances?

Answer: Yes, provided the practitioner meets all of the following requirements: (1) The practitioner must comply with all other requirements for issuing controlled substance prescriptions in 21 CFR part 1306; (2) The practitioner must use an application that meets the requirements of 21 CFR part 1311; and (3) The practitioner must comply with the requirements for practitioners in 21 CFR part 1311. See 21 CFR 1306.08(a). EO-DEA114, July 23, 2020

Disclaimer: Guidance documents, like this document, are not binding and lack the force and effect of law, unless expressly authorized by statute or expressly incorporated into a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement. Consistent with Executive Order 13891 and the Office of Management and Budget implementing memoranda, the Department will not cite, use, or rely on any guidance document that is not accessible through the Department's guidance portal, or similar guidance portals for other Executive Branch departments and agencies, except to establish historical facts. To the extent any guidance document sets out voluntary standards (e.g., recommended practices), compliance with those standards is voluntary, and noncompliance will not result in enforcement action. Guidance documents may be rescinded or modified in the Department's complete discretion, consistent with applicable laws.

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