Senate approves Sen. Ruth Johnson’s e-prescription bill

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved Sen. Ruth Johnson’s legislation to improve patient safety and combat drug abuse by requiring prescriptions in Michigan to be electronically transmitted from the doctor to the pharmacy.

“Electronic prescriptions can better ensure the safety of Michigan patients by reducing the risk of errors and harmful drug interactions,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “A study showed a nearly sevenfold reduction in errors with e-prescribing versus paper prescriptions. E-prescribing can also help to improve patient compliance rates because all prescriptions reach the pharmacist, unlike a paper prescription that can be misplaced or forgotten.”

Electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, is the use of a technological system by prescribers to write and transmit a patient’s prescription to a participating pharmacy.

Johnson’s bill, Senate Bill 248, would require the electronic prescribing of prescription drugs in Michigan by Jan. 1, 2021. If a prescriber could not meet the electronic transmission requirements due to a technological limitation that was not reasonably within their control, they could apply for a waiver from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

SB 254, sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, would apply to prescriptions for controlled substances containing opioids or benzodiazepines.

“Another important benefit of e-prescribing relates to the ongoing and devastating opioid crisis in our state,” Johnson said. “Estimates suggest that one in every 11 opioid abusers may have obtained drugs through a fraudulent or forged paper prescription. E-prescribing would end this type of prescription fraud, and it would also allow doctors to see how often patients are filling prescriptions for controlled substances — making it easier to spot potential abuse.”

According to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bills, at least 23 states require e-prescribing with certain exemptions.

SBs 248 and 254 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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