A new effort in the fight against the opioid epidemic has been implemented across Pennsylvania. It's called Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) and it went into effect on October 24th, 2019.

EPCS requires doctors to use a key fob or an app on their phones to generate a random number, which is used to enter the system and write the prescription. All prescriptions are electronic and are transferred directly from the doctor's office to the patient's pharmacy.

Dr. Nathan Moore, a family physician affiliated with UPMC Hamot, said it makes forging prescriptions more difficult. "The security part of it is that we can't have anybody steal it. You can't forge the prescriptions; my signature is never in the public eye," he said.

"In the old days, it was very easy to 'doctor shop,' 'prescription shop,' and potentially take a prescription and forge it and double up, triple up, quadruple up on medication doses," Dr. Moore continued, " It's very difficult to do that now."

EPCS makes patient's charts available to any doctor using the system, even if it is a doctor that is out of state. That way, patients can save time at new doctor's offices since their medical history will already be known.

It lets them know what they've been prescribed, how much and when.

Dr. Moore said he's already seen the system catch a few people trying to do just that. "I could describe a number of cases that we've seen even just in the short time that we've been doing this where patients were hoping to shop around a little bit, hoping to double up on prescriptions, and that's very difficult now," he said.

The system first was used in 2012 in other states and multiple others have adopted it, including New York.