June 15, 2018

Warren Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis with E-Prescriptions Passes Senate Finance Committee

Included in Package of Opioid Bills; Could Save Taxpayers $250M over 10 years


Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) applauded the Senate Finance Committee’s passage of her bipartisan bill to combat opioid addiction by requiring electronic prescriptions for controlled substances, including opioids, under Medicare. The bill was included in the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018, which passed with unanimous committee approval. Senator Warren, along with Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), introduced the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act in February. 

 “We need to be using every tool at our disposal to fight the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Warren. “Our bipartisan bill will help gather better data on the opioid epidemic while also helping health care providers make the best decisions for their patients. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation into law.”

 Misused prescription opioids are often obtained illegally using forged or altered prescriptions and by consulting multiple doctors (“doctor shopping”). Electronic prescriptions are key to reducing misuse of prescription opioids – and the EPCS Act would reduce the number of opioids obtained through fraudulent prescriptions or doctor shopping. The EPCS Act included in the HEAL Act would direct health care providers to use electronic prescribing for controlled substances for Medicare Part D transactions beginning in 2021. Electronic prescriptions would generate real-time information on opioid use and streamline the prescription process for both providers and their patients. Preliminary estimates from the  Senate Finance Committee estimate that the bill could save taxpayers $250M over 10 years.

 Last week, Senators Warren, Bennet, Heller, and Toomey wrote to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requesting that they update their regulations on e-prescribing of controlled substances.