Tags: telehealth | medications | controlled | substances | prescription | dea | ruling

COVID Telehealth Prescription Rules Extended

woman talking to her doctor on telehealth, on tablet, holding up a prescription bottle of pills
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 10 May 2023 12:35 PM EDT

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) filed Tuesday to extend telehealth rules created during the pandemic allowing prescribing of controlled substances. This new ruling will take effect Thursday, May 11, when the COVID-19 public health emergency regulations expire. The ruling allows the prescribing of controlled substances without an in-person visit until November 11 of this year.

According to Axios, any existing provider to patient telehealth relationship established before November 11, 2023 can then continue through November 2024.

The original draft rules that the DEA proposed earlier this year to end the flexibilities of prescribing controlled substances through telehealth met with a backlash of 38,000 public comments among patients. Groups like the American Society of Addiction Medicine and behavioral health experts said that the proposals would disrupt patient care and access to treatment.

DEA administrator Anne Milgram asked the White House for more time to finalize the draft rules so that more Americans could obtain needed medications while the agency reviews comments and clarifies the path forward. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommended making the telehealth prescribing policies permanent in a tweet on Tuesday.

The official public health emergency rules that allowed patients to obtain controlled substances without an in-patient visit with their doctor was scheduled to end May 11. But the outpouring of protest prompted a six month extension, says CNN.

“We take these comments seriously and are considering them carefully,” Milgram said, in a news release. “We recognize the importance of telemedicine in providing American with access to needed medications, and we have decided to extend the current flexibilities for six months while we work to find a way to give Americans that access with appropriate safeguards.”

The controlled medications in question include stimulant medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, benzodiazepines for anxiety, or medications for opioid use disorder, sleep, or pain. The DEA’s website has a general list of controlled substances here.

The proposed rules, developed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and in close coordination with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, extended many of the flexibilities adopted during COVID-19 with appropriate safeguards. They do not effect:

• Telemedicine consultations that do not involve controlled substances

• Telemedicine consultations by a medical practitioner who has previously conducted an in-person examination of the patient.

• Telemedicine consultations and prescriptions by a medical practitioner to whom a patient has been referred, as long as the referring physician has previously conducted an in-person medical examination of the patient.

For the subset of patients who haven’t been seen by a healthcare professional and require a controlled medication, the DEA will allow a 30-day supply of Schedule III non-narcotic controlled medications or a 30-day supply of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Ultimately, there will be a final, permanent set of regulations, according to the DEA.

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Health-News
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) filed Tuesday to extend telehealth rules created during the pandemic allowing prescribing of controlled substances. This new ruling will take effect Thursday, May 11, when the COVID-19 public health emergency regulations expire. The...
telehealth, medications, controlled, substances, prescription, dea, ruling, extension, covid
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2023-35-10
Wednesday, 10 May 2023 12:35 PM
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