DEA temporarily extends telehealth prescribing flexibilities

The Drug Enforcement Agency has temporarily extended the flexibilities that allow physicians to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without an in-person evaluation. 

After receiving 38,000 comments on its initial proposal, which was originally announced in February, the DEA said it would allow healthcare providers to prescribe various controlled substances, including Adderall, oxycodone, buprenorphine, as well as Schedule III-V non-narcotic controlled medications, via telehealth without a prior in-person medical evaluation.

"We recognize the importance of telemedicine in providing Americans with access to needed medications, and we have decided to extend the current flexibilities while we work to find a way forward to give Americans that access with appropriate safeguards," the DEA wrote in a May 3 statement. 

Per the DEA's original proposal, physicians would be able to give an initial 30-day prescription via telemedicine without an in-person exam, but then have to do an in-person exam to refill it.

A 180-day grace period would be given to patients to comply with these new requirements. This rule would apply to medications that treat opioid addiction, as well as Schedule III-V non-narcotic controlled medications. But, the proposal was met with opposition from advocates and providers stating this would create barriers to care.

Due to the comments, the DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services submitted a draft temporary rule to the Office of Management and Budget so that the telehealth flexibilities for controlled substances could continue.

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