Countdown - EPCS in New York

November 20, 2014 Ryan Buckner

The countdown for EPCS in New York is marking the days until March 27, 2015. At this time, all medical professionals, with the exception of veterinarian services must accept and allow the prescribing of controlled substances with electronic prescriptions for all medications that are prescribed or filled within the State of New York. Learn about what this new law involves and how this will affect both business and consumer with these important facts:

Law Background

New York law requires that all prescriptions be transmitted electronically within two years from the Department of Health’s regulations. These regulations became effective on March 27, 2013, which created a mandatory date of March 27, 2015 for all prescriptions. The law refers to EPCS, which stands for Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances. The prescriptions covered under this provision include both controlled substances and non-controlled substances. The controlled substances refer to prescription drugs and not non-prescription items, for example, durable medical equipment.

The law was created as an effort to keep up with modern technology and improve on the prescription process. A primary motivation for the State’s move towards electronic prescribing was to minimize medication errors caused by poor handwriting or misreading of a prescription. The State cited that electronic prescribing also allows for the integration of prescription records directly into the patient’s electronic medical record, which provides an integrated environment for medical treatment for all patient concerns.

Details of the Law

Practitioners can digitally prescribe substances if the following conditions are met as dictated by the Health NY government FAQ.

  • ECPS software must meet requirements as dictated by the DEA, including a third party audit or DEA certification.
  • Practitioners have completed identity proofing as dictated by federal standards.
  • Practitioners obtain valid two-party authentication.
  • Practitioners must register their choice of DEA certified EPCS software with the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. This form is available in the Health NY FAQ listed above.

While these requirements are mandatory for electronic prescribing, there are still exceptions available that will allow paper prescriptions to be honored. In the case of power outages and emergencies, traditional prescriptions will still be valid, as well as in the case of any practitioner’s exceptions as dictated by Article 2A - Section 281 or Title 10 Part 80 Section 80.64 of state law.


Although the requirements were passed in March 2013, we have seen a significant demand for EPCS services increase in the second half of 2014. The DEA originally began accepting digital or electronic prescriptions as valid in 2010, and adoption of this technology has been ongoing ever since. Even though pharmacies located outside of New York State or are not registered with the New York State Board of Pharmacy and are not required to register their certified software applications with the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, practitioners are showing an increased use of DEA compliant systems. Many electronic prescription application providers are ramping up their EPCS compliance efforts, in anticipation of other states following suit with the State of New York.

With the many benefits of ECPS, it's only a matter of time before these systems become universally adopted throughout the United States. Sanctioned and regulated by the DEA, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, and state regulations, this new method or prescribing helps to reduce both user error, but also plagiarism and prescription drug theft. For detailed regulations, see the federal rules online or view our EPCS Overview below.

EPCS Overview Presentation

About the Author

Ryan Buckner

Ryan Buckner is a Principal at Schellman & Company. Ryan currently serves on Schellman’s attestation leadership team and leads the firm-wide research and development for attestation methodology. Ryan is a CIPP, CISSP, CISA, ISO 27001 Lead auditor, and maintains multiple CPA licenses, among other certifications. Ryan is also an AICPA-approved and nationally listed Peer Review Specialist for SOC 1 and SOC 2 examinations. Having completed over 1,000 service audits, Ryan is one of the most experienced service auditors in the world.

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