Controversy Over Electronic Prescriptions - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/4/07

Controversy Over Electronic Prescriptions

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Your doctor's scribbled prescription is fast becoming paper of the past, because doctors will write 35 million electronic prescriptions this year. That's according to "SureScripts" the company that created the e-prescription system.

Pharmacists say it's convenient, secure and safe. However, the federal government has banned electronic prescriptions for controlled substances like pain killers, narcotics and stimulants.

At a hearing in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, some lawmakers are trying to lift that ban. They are arguing the Justice Department already uses this technology to transmit top-secret information about terrorists and drug trade.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island replied, "And you're comfortable that they can be kept securely? Yes. All right, it would be nice to try the same thing for a guy to prescribe a bottle of Vicodin."

Advocates say not only are e-prescriptions convenient but by automatically checking for bad drug interactions they're reducing the estimated one and a half million medical errors reported each year.

The government's concern is that drug traffickers could break into the system and write bogus prescriptions for controlled substances, then sell them on the street.

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