October 09, 2023
Area(s) of Interest: Drug Prescribing/Dispensing
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued a new temporary rule that will extend the ability to prescribe controlled substances based on telehealth patient visits.
While this flexibility was set to end when the federal COVID-19 public health emergency expired in May, DEA had extended the same policies that had been in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency for an additional 6 months, until November 11, 2023. The latest temporary rule will extend this flexibility through the end of 2024.
DEA received more than 38,000 comments on its proposed telemedicine rules and is working to promulgate a final set of telemedicine regulations by the fall of 2024. According to DEA, the goal of this temporary rule is to ensure a smooth transition for physicians and patients who have come to rely on the availability of telemedicine for controlled medication prescriptions, and allow adequate time for providers to come into compliance with any new standards or safeguards that DEA promulgates in the final rules.
The second temporary rule includes two major provisions, to:
- Extend, until the end of 2024, the full set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding prescription of controlled medications, in place during the COVID-19 PHE; and
- Authorize all DEA-registered practitioners to prescribe schedule II-V controlled medications via telemedicine through December 31, 2024, whether or not the patient and practitioner established a telemedicine relationship on or before November 11, 2023.
The California Medical Association (CMA) applauds this extension, which will allow patients to continue to receive safe and effective care via telemedicine. CMA submitted comments on the proposed regulations, urging DEA to ensure that any new rules will not limit access for our most vulnerable patients.