How to Safeguard Your Pharmacy from Fraudulent Electronic Prescriptions

PAAS National® has recently assisted pharmacies who received fraudulent electronic prescriptions from prescribers that had their electronic prescribing credentials hacked or stolen. There was a recent widespread e-prescription fraud reported earlier this year where criminals issued over 18,000 prescriptions to pharmacies in 18 states in just a 5-hour span.

Fraudulent prescriptions that are billed to the patient’s insurance are subject to full recoupment when audited by the PBM. Unfortunately, pharmacies will need to cooperate with the PBM audit process and prove that they were not willing participants by explaining their process of “due diligence” to authenticate the prescriptions. To offset the financial losses from PBM recoupment, pharmacies will need to lean on their business insurance or separately pursue legal action against the perpetrators.

Of course, it would be much better to avoid dispensing (and billing) these fraudulent prescriptions from the start. Although electronic prescriptions are generally safer than written or telephone prescriptions, they are still vulnerable to exploitation by criminals targeting unsuspecting pharmacies.

Here are some techniques to spot fraudulent electronic prescriptions at your pharmacy:

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  1. Know the prescriber
    1. Is this a new prescriber in your area?
    2. Have you received electronic prescriptions from this prescriber before?
    3. Is the medication within their scope of practice?
    4. Can you verify prescriber information (e.g. phone, address) through public resources?
  2. Know the patient
    1. Is this a new patient at your pharmacy?
    2. Does this patient live within your service area?
    3. How did the pharmacy obtain prescription insurance information?
    4. Consider requiring a copy of photo identification for prescriptions picked up for new patients
    5. Some level of skepticism may be need if all interactions are with a friend or family member
  3. Review the prescription for unusual items such as:
    1. Is dose regimen outside the norm?
    2. Does patient have indication to support use?
    3. Does the patient have other prescriptions from this prescriber? Can the patient confirm they are being treated by the prescriber?
    4. Are there multiple prescriptions issued for high-cost medications brand medications, particularly those that may be dispensed in their original, intact containers

PAAS Tips:

  • Document your due diligence efforts on the prescription or in your pharmacy management software
  • Report fraudulent prescriptions to prescribers, local police, board of pharmacy/medicine, and the PBM
  • Contact your business insurance provider as they may have remedies to help manage fraud losses

Eric Hartkopf, PharmD