Gov. Wolf: Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances Decreases Diversion, Fraud

October 28, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that health care providers prescribing controlled substances are required to do so electronically, unless they meet certain exceptions. This is set forth by Act 96, now in effect.

“Electronic prescribing is a tremendous deterrent against prescription fraud and the latest effort of the state to decrease the effects of the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have seen the number of opioid prescriptions decrease through education and other initiatives we have put in place. Electronic prescribing is a way to keep opioids out of the hands of those who may misuse them.”

Recent data has shown that from 2016 through mid-2019, opioid prescribing is down 30 percent. In addition, the total number of patients who were prescribed high dosages of opioids decreased by 46 percent from mid-2016 through mid-2019. A high dosage is defined as a daily dose of opioids with a morphine-milligram equivalent greater than 90. Also, the total number of patients who were prescribed overlapping prescriptions of both benzodiazepines and opioids for more than 30 days decreased by 48 percent in the same time frame.

“Electronic prescribing is the latest initiative to stop opioids and other controlled substances from getting into the wrong hands,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This technology allows health care providers to send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy, streamlining the process of getting a controlled substance prescribed. Electronic prescribing will also help to cut down on medication mistakes, which can occur with written prescriptions.”

For individuals who have questions about this new law and how it affects them, the Department of Health has a website with information for patients, prescribers and dispensers. In addition, anyone with questions can contact the department by emailing or calling 844-377-7367 Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Opioid Command Center, established in January 2018 when Gov. Wolf signed the first opioid disaster declaration, meets every week to discuss the opioid crisis. The command center is staffed by personnel from 17 state agencies, spearheaded by the departments of Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Recent data shows that in 2018, more than 4,400 people died from a drug overdose. This represents an 18 percent decrease in drug overdose deaths from 2017.

For more information about opioids and electronic prescribing, visit

Find more information on the state’s response to the opioid crisis.

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