Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Schneiderman asks Cuomo to veto e-prescribing exceptions

September 23, 2016

As published by the Albany Times Union on September 21, 2016.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto two bills he said would weaken the state’s three-year-old electronic prescription monitoring system.

The bills would “open significant loopholes” to the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, Deputy Attorney General Brian K. Mahanna said in a Sept. 20 letter to Alphonso David, general counsel to Cuomo. Implemented in 2013, I-STOP is an attempt to rein in the overuse of prescriptions painkillers. It requires doctors to write prescriptions electronically in most cases and to check a database of prescriptions for controlled substances before writing the prescription, to prevent patients from conning multiple physicians into giving them scripts for narcotics.

One bill would exempt nursing home doctors from the e-prescribing rule. The intent, according to the bill, is to make sure patients get their prescriptions filled in a timely manner, recognizing that nursing homes do not always have a doctor on site. Mahanna wrote that existing laws allow for doctors to prescribe medications verbally in emergency situations, so the bill isn’t needed.

Electronic records are particularly important in nursing homes, where errors can rise to criminal conduct if records are omitted, altered or destroyed, he wrote. They also help minimize theft of drugs from residents, known as diversion, he wrote.

The other bill would exempt providers who write paper prescriptions in certain situations, such as when a prescription will be filled out of state, from a rule requiring them to report the prescriptions to the state Department of Health.

The bill would allow doctors to avoid compliance with I-STOP and allow patients who are “doctor shopping” for prescriptions to falsely claim they will fill the prescription out of state, Mahanna said.

Both bills are under review by Cuomo’s office, according to spokesman Richard Azzopardi.