Important prescription security measures

Prescription fraud continues to be an issue throughout the U.S. health care industry. For example, a Little Rock, Arkansas, doctor was arrested in May after authorities alleged he received prescription drugs through fraudulent means, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Medicare and Medicaid in particular are targets of fraud. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,prescription fraud will result in drug diversion, which is "the illegal distribution or abuse of prescription drugs or their use for unintended purposes." Rx Security said fraudulent prescriptions are the leading cause of drug diversion in the U.S. and Canada. These illegal activities may result in more harm, such as overdoses, addictions and trips to the emergency room.

A January 2014 study from CMS identified prescribers as having a role to play in stopping illegal distribution of drugs obtained by means of prescription fraud. There are a variety of methods available to help protect subscriptions to keep drugs out of the wrong hands.

Security requirements
To help combat prescription fraud, CMS created an anti-fraud program to safeguard against abuse. The organization said Medicaid loses millions of dollars a year because of fraud. As a result, a Medicaid Tamper Resistant program was created. Starting in 2008, it was mandated prescriptions can only be classified as tamper resistant if they implemented one feature from a pre-determined set of categories.

Category one
For this category, prescriptions must use one or more tamper-resistant features "to prevent unauthorized copying of a completed or blank prescription form." An excellent example of a security feature for category one is micro line printing. This anti-fraud measure is typically used on currency. For prescriptions, however, micro line printing is a covert security feature.  

Instead of a solid line on the prescription, the words "Secure Prescription" run together to create the line. To the regular eye, this will resemble a straight line. Looking at the line with a magnifying glass however would reveal the string of words. Micro printing is an attractive first option to protect prescriptions.

Category two
Like category one, this category requires prescriptions to contain at least one anti-fraud security measure. An organization will want to implement one of the following features: printer features that may include quantity check boxes, a Toner Grip Security Coating or a colored shaded pantograph background.

A color shaded background will reveal any tampering attempts quite easily. This security method uses a special ink to create the background color. If someone was to attempt to erase any information, Micro Format, Inc. said the background ink will be erased and leave a white mark. These signs will reveal fraud attempts.

Category three
The final category contains the most options to deter fraud. Industry recognized security features in this category are: back printing, consecutive numbering, secure rub color change ink, coin activated validation, batch number identification, a secure feature warning box and warning bands.

One of the most interesting security features is the coin activated validation. This is a security back print that is activated by rubbing it with a coin or paper clip, according to Micro Format. When pharmacists are handed a prescription, they can turn to the back of the script and rub a coin inside the designated area to reveal the words "valid." If this word does not show up, the prescription may be forged.

Another strong option is the utilization of thermochromatic ink. When rubbed, this ink will disappear and subsequently display a distinctive icon. Pharmacists can identify legitimate prescriptions by knowing where to rub the paper to reveal the icon.

Anti-fraud security measures for prescriptions are crucial for group purchasing organizations and the health care industry to prevent fraudulent use of prescription drugs.