Under a new law in Arizona that went into effect on January 1, 2020, all opioid prescriptions must be transmitted from a physician to a pharmacy electronically. The e-prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) is now the law to one degree or another in about half the states.
The new legislation is designed primarily to deal with easily forged and/or stolen paper prescriptions for opioids. It will also make it easier for the government to keep track of both usage rates for the drugs and potential abuse. Arizona law already contains a host of restrictions on the conditions that warrant opioid prescriptions; and when and for how long an opioid prescription may be issued.
Opioid Facts in Arizona
The new law, which was passed early last year and became effective this year, is in response to the opioid epidemic, which includes a number of disturbing facts. Those facts include the following, which occurred during the 6 month period between mid-2017 and early 2018. In that time,
- more than 800 Arizonans died from suspected opioid overdoses;
- over 5,200 people suffered a suspected opioid overdose; and
- more than 450 newborn babies were addicted to opioids.
In addition to the effects on our population, statistics provided by the state of Arizona showed that in one county alone (with only 200,000 residents), four doctors collectively wrote prescriptions for more than 6,000,000 opioids.
Not surprisingly, according to a recent study, Maricopa had by far the highest number of reported opioid overdoses. It was followed, in descending order, by Pima, with a tie for third place among Pinal, Yavapai and Mohave Counties.
Prior to the passage of this most recent piece of legislation, the state’s efforts to curb opiate abuse included cracking down on doctor shopping, reversing overdoses with the use of Naloxone, and, where the state is the payer, limiting the first opioid prescription to 7 days. We are hopeful that the new measure will have a positive impact and reduce the effects of the opioid crisis.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004