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Emdeon Announces Support For Electronic Prescribing Of Controlled Substances Using The DEA-Allowed Quicker-to-Market Approach

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Emdeon Inc. (NYSE: EM), a leading provider of healthcare revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions, today announced its support for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) quicker-to-market option for electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS).

On June 1, 2010, prescribers became legally allowed to electronically transmit controlled substance prescriptions to the pharmacy of a patient's choice, and pharmacies were allowed to electronically receive these prescriptions so long as certain required security measures were in place. Over a year after the DEA Interim Final Rule (IFR) enabling EPCS became effective, the healthcare industry still has not completed implementation of the electronic prescribing software systems necessary to transmit controlled substance prescriptions pursuant to the IFR. Emdeon believes many of the challenges faced by prescribers and pharmacies may be addressed expeditiously through an option that is currently offered within the IFR.

The DEA gave two options in the IFR to allow for EPCS between prescribers and pharmacies. One option, which has been referred to in the industry as "Option 1," entails end-to-end public key infrastructure where the prescription is digitally signed with the prescriber's digital certificate and that signature is verified by the pharmacy using the prescriber's public key. Option 1 requires a coordination of effort between prescriber and pharmacy to capture, transmit, receive, validate and store the digital signature assigned to each prescription. Because the technology requirements related to Option 1 are complex and standards continue to be developed, the required software upgrades may be delayed behind other regulatory compliance initiatives for many pharmacies.

The other DEA-allowable option, which has been referred to in the industry as "Option 2," requires the transmission of a flag from the prescriber to the pharmacy indicating that a controlled substance prescription has been sent by a DEA-certified prescriber using a two-factor authentication method. The digital signature is validated, captured and stored, all by the prescriber, but not transmitted to the pharmacy. This option requires the pharmacy or last intermediary to digitally sign the transaction as received to verify that the data has not been modified after receipt. Option 2 utilizes currently available software and industry standard transaction data to confirm the authenticity of the transmission resulting in easier compliance with the IFR.

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