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NJ introduces new mandatory prescription blanks to fight fraud

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Manufacturers of the prescription blanks used by New Jersey doctors will soon be required to add new print-based security features, state authorities announced this morning.

In a bid to fight the black-market sale of prescription painkillers, the security enhancements will include color-changing ink, 0.5-point micro-printing, and a hollow “VOID” hidden word feature, among others ( see illustration, below ).

It will include all prescription blanks used by state-licensed physicians, dentists, and other prescribers.

“The abuse of prescription painkillers kills approximately 45 Americans every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “Prescription painkiller abuse is directly linked to the rise in heroin addiction.

“We are fighting this epidemic on every possible front including our Opiates Task Force for criminal prosecution, our actions against rogue doctors who sell prescriptions for cash, and now these security measures to prevent the forgery and counterfeiting of fake prescriptions.”

The state Division of Consumer Affairs developed the new regulations and prescription blank format after conducting research into the prescription security measures used in other states.

New Jersey authorities also had discussions with the state-approved printing vendors who currently supply prescription blanks, Hoffman said.

“Technology has made it easier and cheaper than ever to make forged prescriptions,” DCA Director Eric T. Kanefsky said this morning. “Today we are taking that ground back from those who seek to illegally forge prescription blanks.”

It’s only the first step the DCA is taking to fight forgeries: Hoffman said security measures embedded in the paper itself will soon be required.

The new, secured prescription blanks will be phased in during the next six months. All state-approved vendors must produce the new blanks exclusively by May 18, Hoffman said.

No later than August 18, all state-licensed prescribers must stop using their supply of the old blanks and must exclusively use the new ones.

The new security measures, required by the regulations adopted today, include:

·Thermochromic ink, which changes color in response to body heat.  The heat-activated ink will appear in a small Rx logo on the front of the prescription blank.  It will fade when touched, and return to its original color when it cools.

·Microprint, of 0.5-point type or smaller.  The front of each prescription blank will include a line of microprint that is readable when viewed at 500 percent magnification, but becomes illegible when scanned or photocopied.

·A hollow “VOID” hidden word feature that is invisible on a genuine prescription blank, but should appear in illegally scanned or copied versions.

·A unique 15-digit identification number for each prescription blank.  The alphanumeric code will identify the vendor that created the blank, the vendor’s order number, and a six-digit serial number for each separate prescription blank.

·A barcode matching the prescription blank’s unique 15-digit identification number.  The barcode will enable pharmacists to scan prescription data into the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program.  The NJPMP, maintained by the Division of Consumer Affairs, records all prescription sales in New Jersey of Controlled Dangerous Substances and Human Growth Hormone (more information: www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/pmp ).

A complete list of all security features will be printed on the back of the prescription blank, Hoffman said.

The blanks will be green on the front and blue on the back — distinguishing them from the previous style (blue on front and green on back).

New Jersey law makes counterfeiting or altering prescription blanks a third-degree crime punishable by a prison term of from three to five years and a fine of up to $15,000.

The new regulation applies only to the use of paper prescription blanks and doesn’t affect the state or federal requirements for electronic prescriptions.

Under rules adopted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, prescribers and pharmacists may use electronic prescriptions for CDS medications only through a secure system that has been tested by a DEA-approved expert. New Jersey regulations allow the use of electronic prescriptions for CDS or non-CDS drugs — and only when they comply with DEA requirements as well as requirements adopted by the State.

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