DEA, SAMHSA Extend COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescribing Controlled Medications for Six Months

Patients who’ve used telemedicine for their prescriptions during the pandemic will have at least six more months before they’ll need to see a doctor in person, with the announcement May 9 of an extension for COVID019 flexibilities while federal agencies consider the record 38,000 comments they received on the proposed post-PHE rulemaking

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued the “Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications” – a temporary rule that extends telemedicine flexibilities adopted during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).

The temporary rule will take effect on May 11, 2023, and extends the full set of telemedicine flexibilities adopted during the COVID-19 public health emergency for six months – through November 11, 2023. For any practitioner-patient telemedicine relationships that have been or will be established up to November 11, 2023, the full set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding prescription of controlled medications established during the COVID-19 PHE will be extended for one year – through November 11, 2024.

The DEA could still change the rules for new scripts after Nov. 11 of this year for patients without a telemedicine provider relationship.

The DEA proposed in February to roll back the pandemic rules in November and require patients to visit their doctors in person before getting new prescriptions in some cases, and refills in others.

The agency expressed concern that providers have been too quick to write scripts for some drugs via virtual care and has investigated two telehealth firms (Cerebral and Done) for allegedly overprescribing ADHD medications under the pandemic rules.