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Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS)

In combatting the opioid overdose epidemic, health care providers need tools to support appropriate prescribing of prescription opioids. 

Electronic prescribing offers a technology enabled-solution for safer more efficient prescribing. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS), legal in all 50 states, helps to reduce fraud and abuse of controlled substances like prescription opioids.  Moving from paper-based prescribing to EPCS enables providers to make use of enhanced security features that technology affords. Prescribers can be authenticated before prescribing a controlled substance and prescriptions may be transmitted to pharmacies securely without risk of alteration or diversion.

Although the majority of providers are sending electronic prescriptions1, far fewer prescribers are using this capability for prescribing prescription opioids. 

National EPCS Quick Stats for the Month of September 2016

Data Source: Surescriptsnational health information network

EPCS Transactions
Providers enabled for EPCS
Pharmacies enabled EPCS

Data Source: The Surescripts nationwide health information network includes more than 60,000 pharmacies, 700 EHR applications, 900,000 healthcare professionals, and thousands of hospitals. In 2015, the Surescripts network processed more than six billion secure health data transactions covering more than 230 million patients. The data points shown above provide a representative estimate of national EPCS trends. For information on Surescripts EPCS data, visit www.surescripts.com/EPCS.


As of September 30, 2016, 88.1% of retail pharmacies and 20.2% of e-prescribing providers were enabled for EPCS. We know that enablement and use of EPCS is growing. Despite, the rise in EPCS, more action is needed to promote wide-spread use of this technology nationwide. Some states, like New York are taking action to mandate electronic prescribing. ONC is working to educate the health care community on the benefits of electronic prescribing and importance of EPCS as a tool to support appropriate opioid prescribing.

Continue to watch this page for updates on EPCS trends and more information on educational resources for implementing EPCS.

For more information on DEA EPCS regulations please visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/ecomm/e_rx/

Promoting the Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances is one way that ONC is supporting the Secretary for Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative to combat the nation’s prescription opioid crisis. Learn more about the federal response to opioid overdose and deaths here. Learn more about how health IT may be used to combat the crisis below. 

Using Health IT to Combat the Opioid Crisis    

Clinical Decision Support

Learn more about how health IT can aid decision making to improve care.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Learn more about ONC’s efforts to monitor prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances and how this information is made available at the point of care.