The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is soliciting feedback from doctors and other professionals responsible for the distribution of electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. The Request for Information (RFI) was issued in the wake of the newly passed Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act), which requires the DEA to revisit its biometric identification policies for prescribers.
The current rules for e-prescriptions were published in 2010. That law allowed doctors to write e-prescriptions for the first time, and also created a regulatory framework to prevent abuses of the system. For example, all e-prescriptions still need to be auditable, while the doctors writing the prescriptions need to have the approval of federal authorities. Credentials are only issued to doctors who can prove their identity and who are licensed to write prescriptions.
However, those rules are now ten years old, and while multi-factor authentication is part of the identity verification process, it does not have any provisions for biometric identifiers, largely because biometric tech was still in the early stages of commercialization at that time. Biometrics have evolved dramatically in the years since, which is why the new SUPPORT Act is asking the DEA to revisit its existing legislation.
The DEA is simply hoping that the feedback from the RFI will make it easier to craft a policy that works well for all of the various stakeholders in the system. Doctors are being asked to weigh in on a variety of subjects, ranging from their preferred biometric identifiers to their use of devices as hard tokens and any workflow issues they may be having when using electronic health record systems. The resulting policy solution should allow the DEA to maintain the necessary safeguards while delivering a better user experience and enabling the more widespread use of e-prescription services.
Numerous biometrics and healthcare providers have noted that biometric authentication can help regulate access to controlled substances. IDEX has advocated for the use of biometric smart cards, while Vancouver deployed a biometric vending machine to help combat the opioid crisis.
Source: The National Law Review
April 29, 2020 – by Eric Weiss