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Pharmacist FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for Pharmacists on Electronic Prescriptions


Q:  Where can I find guidance from the DEA on electronic prescribing of controlled substances?

A:  The DEA maintains a guidance document here:



As pharmacists know, the DEA promulgated a rule in June 2010 that would allow the prescribing of all schedules of controlled substances electronically (“ECSRx”).  That rule also provided, however, that any system for the transmission or receipt of electronic controlled substance prescriptions must be certified by DEA or a DEA-authorized entity as meeting the significant security requirements in that rule.  On August 1, 2012, DEA announced that it had approved certification processes for e-prescribing systems conducted by several entities.  More information is found here:  As a result, various ECSRx systems (both transmitting and receiving) are coming on line.  Once a system has been approved as meeting DEA’s security requirements, it may be used in North Carolina.  There is no state-law barrier to ECSRx.  Pharmacies are urged to check with their software vendors to determine their systems’ certification status.



Q: Are Internet prescriptions legal?

A: The Board of Pharmacy has a Rule, which allows the transmission of prescription orders electronically. It can be found at 21 NCAC 46.1813.

It is up to the Pharmacist to determine the legitimacy of each prescription, which arrives in the Pharmacy. One important consideration is the Board’s Rule on prescription orders, 21 NCAC 46.1801, which reflects North Carolina Medical Board Policy on legitimate patient-prescriber relationships. Federal law prohibits any controlled substance prescription issued without a physical examination and prior prescriber-patient relationship.


Q: Can prescriptions be transmitted electronically?

A: Board rule at Section .1813 provides that prescriptions may be transmitted electronically. Part of that rule specifies that an electronic signature is acceptable for this kind if transaction.

A graphical representation of the prescriber's signature is sufficient to satisfy this rule. But it is not necessary. It is enough that the prescription contains an electronic signature "unique to the practitioner."

When in doubt, pharmacists should, of course, call the prescriber to confirm a prescription.


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