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Medical Professionals Reference (MPR)DEA Allows Electronic Transfer of Controlled Substance Prescriptions for Initial Fill

Effective August 28, 2023, electronic prescriptions for classes II-V restricted substances can be exchanged between registered retail pharmacies for initial filling.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has finalized regulations that allow the transfer of electronic prescriptions for controlled substances (EPCS) between registered retail pharmacies for initial filling. This significant amendment aims to streamline the prescription process, reduce the potential for duplicate prescriptions, and minimize opportunities for diversion or misuse.

Key Points:

  • New Regulations for Electronic Prescriptions: The DEA has revised its regulations to allow registered retail pharmacies to transfer electronic controlled substance prescriptions in schedules II–V to other registered retail pharmacies for initial filling.
  • Procedures and Documentation: Specific procedures must be followed, and information must be documented when transferring EPCS. The transfer must be communicated directly between two licensed pharmacists, and the prescription must remain in its electronic form.
  • One-Time Transfer: The final rule allows the transfer between retail pharmacies for initial filling on a one-time basis only, upon request from the patient.
  • Compliance with State Law: The transfer of EPCS for initial dispensing is permissible only if allowable under existing State or other applicable law.
  • Record Maintenance: Both the transferring and receiving pharmacies must maintain electronic records documenting EPCS transfers for two years from the date of the transfer.

Additional Points:

  • Cost Savings: The DEA estimates the annual cost savings of this rule to be $29 million.
  • Partial Fills: The final rule does not address partial fills of EPCS, and current regulations do not permit a partially-filled prescription to be transferred between pharmacies.


  • The DEA’s final rule on electronic prescriptions for controlled substances represents a strategic advancement in modernizing pharmacy practices. It aligns with technological advancements and aims to enhance efficiency, reduce duplication, and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

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Did You Know?
Controlled substances are classified into five schedules (I-V) based on their potential for abuse, medical use, and safety. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse, while Schedule V drugs have the lowest.

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