The 2019 bill SB19-079 Concerning a Requirement that Certain Practitioners Prescribe Controlled Substances Electronically went into effect for many Colorado physicians on July 1, 2021, but physicians working in a solo practice (a practice consisting of only one prescriber) or in a rural area (as defined in the law) do not have to comply until July 1, 2023. Under the new law, applicable physicians must prescribe Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substances electronically, with certain exceptions.  

Physicians are exempt from the new law, 12-30-111. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances - exceptions - rules - definitions, if they write 24 or fewer prescriptions for controlled substances per year or if they demonstrate economic hardship in accordance with Colorado Medical Board Rule 160 — Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances.

There are also exceptions if:

  • At the time of issuing the prescription, electronic prescribing is not available due to a temporary technological or electrical failure (as defined in Rule 160).
  • The controlled substance is to be administered to a patient in a hospital, nursing care facility, hospice care facility, dialysis treatment clinic, or assisted living residence or to a person who is in the custody of the department of corrections.
  • The prescription is for a controlled substance under a research protocol.
  • The prescriber reasonably determines that the patient would be unable to obtain controlled substances prescribed electronically in a timely manner and that the delay would adversely affect the patient’s medical condition.
  • The prescription is to be dispensed at a pharmacy that is located outside of this state.
  • The prescriber is dispensing the controlled substance to the patient.
  • The prescription includes elements that are not supported by the most recent version of the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs SCRIPT Standard and 21 CFR 1311.
  • The FDA or DAE requires the prescription for the particular controlled substance to contain elements that cannot be satisfied with electronic prescribing.
  • The prescription is not specific to a patient and allows dispensing of the prescribed controlled substance:
    • Pursuant to a standing order, approved protocol of drug therapy, or collaborative drug management or comprehensive medication management plan;
    • In response to a public health emergency; or
    • Under other circumstances that permit the prescriber to issue a prescription that is not patient-specific.


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