DEA Allows Electronic Transfer of Controlled Substance Prescriptions for Initial Fill

For an initial prescription fill, given that the state allows it and the interaction is between licensed pharmacists, electronic prescriptions for controlled substances may be transferred.

Electronic prescriptions for schedules II-V controlled substances can be transferred between registered retail pharmacies for initial filling effective August 28, 2023, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The transfer is permissible only if allowable under existing State or other applicable law.

The final rule requires that the transfer of a controlled substance prescription in schedule II-V be communicated between 2 licensed pharmacists and that the prescription remains in electronic form with no changes during the transmission. The transfer can only be done once; any refills on the prescription (schedule III, IV, or V drugs) will be transferred to the receiving pharmacy as well. Electronic records of the transfer must be maintained by both pharmacies for 2 years from the date of the transfer.

Prior to the amendment, a pharmacy that could not fill an electronic prescription for a controlled substance could only inform the patient that it could not be filled. Since an electronic prescription cannot be printed and given to the patient by the pharmacist, the patient would need to call their doctor and request another prescription be sent to a different pharmacy. The DEA revised its regulations in an effort to reduce the potential for duplicate controlled substance prescriptions.

The final rule has been published in the Federal Register and provides additional information on the regulations, including procedures for proper documentation of the transfer.

This article originally appeared on MPR


US Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice. Transfer of electronic prescriptions for schedules II-V controlled substances between pharmacies for initial filling. Final rule. Accessed August 3, 2023.