Zorn electronic prescription bill poised for House passage

LANSING, Mich. — The House Ways and Means Committee has approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to require prescriptions for opioids to be transmitted from the doctor to the pharmacy electronically. The next step is approval by the full House of Representatives.

“The main reason for this reform was to help address the state’s opioid abuse problem by reducing fraudulent availability of these highly addictive drugs,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “By requiring electronic prescriptions for opioids, we can reduce the illegal supply and virtually eliminate ‘doctor shopping’ — where someone acquires drugs from several different doctors.

“In addition, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, e-prescriptions could improve patient safety and efficient access to necessary medications.”

Senate Bill 248, sponsored by Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, would require the electronic prescribing of prescription drugs in Michigan by Jan. 1, 2021. If a prescriber could not meet the electronic transmission requirements due to a technological limitation that was not reasonably within their control, they could apply for a waiver from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

Zorn’s bill, SB 254, would apply to prescriptions for controlled substances containing opioids or benzodiazepines.

Electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, is the use of a technological system by prescribers to write and transmit a patient’s prescription to a participating pharmacy.

“I hope the House approves these measures and Michigan joins other states with an e-prescribing requirement for controlled substances to help protect patients and stop abusers and drug dealers from using fraudulent prescriptions to get these dangerous drugs,” Zorn said.

According to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bills, at least 23 states require e-prescribing with certain exemptions.