NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)– New York is putting an end to most paper prescriptions for medicine as the nation’s toughest electronic-prescribing law takes effect.

As of Sunday, doctors, dentists and other health care professionals must electronically send prescriptions directly to pharmacies, instead of giving paper scripts to patients. There are exceptions for emergencies and unusual circumstances, and thousands of prescribers have gotten extensions.

The law aims to fight painkiller abuse by thwarting prescription-slip forgery, while reducing errors by eliminating sometimes hard-to-read handwriting, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

“New York’s historic I-STOP law has transformed the way our state is fighting the scourge of opiate addiction. Paper prescriptions had become a form of criminal currency that could be traded even more easily than the drugs themselves. That’s why, when I authored the I-STOP law, one of my main goals was to reduce the value of stolen or forged paper prescriptions,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement Sunday.

What’s known as “e-prescribing” has grown nationwide in recent years. Many patients, doctors and pharmacists find it time-saving and helpful.

But some New York medical leaders have expressed qualms about requiring e-prescribing in almost all situations and about the law’s penalties. They include the possibility of fines, license loss or even jail.

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