Can electronic prescribing mandates reduce opioid-related overdoses?

Econ Hum Biol. 2021 Aug:42:101000. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2021.101000. Epub 2021 Apr 9.


As the opioid crisis has escalated, states have enacted numerous policies targeting opioid access and monitoring possible misuse. Recently, the majority of states have passed electronic prescribing mandates for controlled substances. These mandates require that controlled substances be prescribed electronically directly to the pharmacy. The electronic system maintains a rich patient history that prescribers will observe when issuing a prescription while also reducing opportunities for fraud. The first enforced mandate was implemented in New York in March 2016; thus empirical evidence about the effects of such mandates is limited. We study how adoption of the New York e-prescribing mandate affected opioid supply and opioid-related overdoses. We estimate that the mandate reduced the rate of overdoses involving natural and semi-synthetic opioids by 22 %. We find little evidence of any corresponding changes in overdose rates involving illicit opioids.

Keywords: E-prescribing; EPCS; Opioid crisis; Supply-side interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Drug Overdose* / drug therapy
  • Drug Overdose* / epidemiology
  • Drug Overdose* / prevention & control
  • Electronic Prescribing*
  • Humans
  • Opiate Overdose*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid