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State's electronic prescription law takes effect

Posted at 7:19 AM, Mar 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-28 13:16:00-04

New York's electronic law took effect Sunday, and experts are calling it the toughest in the nation.

Under the "I-Stop" law, doctors, dentists and other health care professionals must electronically send prescriptions directly to pharmacies, instead of giving paper scripts to patients, or phoning them into pharmacies. There are exceptions for emergencies and unusual circumstances, and thousands of prescribers have gotten extensions.

The law aims to fight painkiller abuse. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says paper prescriptions had become "criminal currency that could be traded even more easily than the drug themselves." Lawmakers expect electronic prescriptions will nearly eliminate prescription forgery.

Electronic prescribing is also expected to cut down on errors that happen when pharmacists can't read a physician's handwriting and mistakenly issue the wrong medication to patients.

Dubbed "e-prescribing," many patients, physicians, and pharmacists report that electronic prescriptions help everyone save time.

But some medical experts are not on-board with requiring electronic prescriptions in almost all situations, and others worry about the law's penalties. Noncompliance can result in fines, license loss or even jail.