Pharmacists across the USA can now be sent electronic drug prescriptions after Alaska became the final state to sign up to the scheme.
It follows Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia, which all joined the national network over the course of the last year.
Dick Holm, a member of Alaska’s Board of Pharmacy, said they decided to commit to the programme after receiving several requests from doctors and businesses.
Advocates claim electronic prescriptions have several advantages, such as reducing the risk of pharmacists incorrectly filling in prescriptions because they cannot understand a doctor’s handwriting.
They also claim it will reduce paperwork and help thwart forgeries, as the electronic delivery system ensures prescriptions are delivered directly to the pharmacy from the doctor.
However, critics have questioned the security of the system and have expressed concerns it may be vulnerable to hackers, and warn there could also be issues surrounding data corruption.
Nancy Davis, executive director of the Alaska Pharmacists Association, said she supports the change, but its cost, including the software, could hurt some practitioners.
She said: “It’s going to have a definite impact on the smaller pharmacies. The small, independent pharmacies are going to be the ones that lag behind, if anyone does.”
Copyright © PA Business 2007