DEA, HHS issue 2nd extension of controlled substances via telehealth

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is, for a second time, extending clinicians' ability to prescribe controlled substances using telehealth services, according to a revised rule the agency published. 

Under the guidelines developed during the pandemic, a patient can be prescribed a controlled substance, "even if the patient isn’t at a hospital or clinic registered with the DEA," according to the HHS. This was initially extended through Nov. 11, 2023, but the Oct. 10 revision has pushed that date to now expire on Dec. 31, 2024. 

"[I]n light of Telemedicine Listening Sessions that DEA hosted on September 12 and 13, 2023, DEA and HHS are further extending such exceptions to existing DEA regulations for new practitioner-patient relationships," the revision states. 

The American Medical Association came out in support of the agencies' decision with the organization's President Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, stating that it "is grateful the DEA recognizes patients being treated with these medications, including medication to treat opioid use disorder, often have challenges securing and traveling to in-person appointments, and that the agency is committed to avoiding lapses in their care." 

In addition, Dr. Ehrenfeld notes that the organization will "continue to encourage DEA, as it revises the rules, to provide an appropriate balance between advancing patients’ access to care via the mix of in-person and virtual services that best meets their needs while also ensuring patient safety."

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