Electronically Transmitted Prescriptions Seen as Key to Cutting Illicit Use of Prescription Drugs

Release Date: August 7, 2001


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Electronic prescriptions -- not fingerprinting of patients at pharmacies as proposed by some policymakers -- could help cut a substantial amount of illicit use of medications like OxyContin, according to Karl D. Fiebelkorn, assistant dean for student affairs and professional relations in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

"We're starting to see prescriptions go electronic," said Fiebelkorn, editor of "Pharmacy Law," a newsletter covering pharmacy practice laws in New York published by the school.

"Already some doctors are writing prescriptions on their personal digital assistants and sending them electronically into pharmacies while the patient is still in their office. That gives the doctor and the pharmacist an 'electronic paper trail,' if you will, so that they both know where the prescription originated and for whom it was written."

Fiebelkorn says the use of personal digital assistants such as Palm Pilots by physicians to write a script may lead to elimination of the "paper prescription" that a patient takes to a pharmacy.

"It's not only going to cut down on abuse," said Fiebelkorn, "it's also going to cut down on transcription errors, such as when a physician or the person writing it down makes a mistake, or when the pharmacist misreads what's on the script."

Fiebelkorn noted that as a result of the increased reliance on such technologies, students at UB's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences probably will be required to learn how to use PDAs as part of the curriculum within the next two to three years. Already, a student committee at the UB pharmacy school is studying the feasibility of using PDAs as a standard classroom tool.

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