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DEA Announces Delay in New Telehealth Prescription Proposal

04 May, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – According to a federal press release in August of last year, the increase in telehealth use during the pandemic was clearly associated with reduced risk of opioid overdose. Researchers found that those patients with opioid use disorder that utilized telehealth services were more likely to remain compliant and maintain medications used to treat their dependency.

While studies have clearly shown that telehealth is associated with lower overdose rates, as well as many other benefits, in March of this year the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced proposed rules that would affect prescribing of medications by telehealth. Under the proposals, a patient would be required to see a medical provider for a Schedule II drug. Additionally, in order to get a Schedule III, IV, or V medication patients would be able to get a 30-day temporary supply but would be required to see a provider for any refills. The DEA proposals were open for 30-day comment, with a target effective date of May 11th.

One important detail that the FDA did not include in their proposal is a specific time requirement. The only requirement mentioned is that a patient must see a provider in person. The lack of a time period requirement for an in person visit leaves quite the loop hole - the rule could mean 10 days ago or two years ago.

After receiving an overwhelming 38,000 comments to the proposed rule, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram issued a formal statement on May 3rd announcing an extension.

“We take those comments seriously and are considering them carefully. 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.

For this reason, last week, DEA, in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services, submitted a draft Temporary Rule to the Office of Management and Budget entitled “Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications.” Further details about the rule will become public after its full publication in the Federal Register.”

Originally, under the Ryan Haight Act of 2008 providers were required to see a patient in person for an exam in order to issue a prescription for a controlled substance. However, the Ryan Haight Act did allow certain exceptions, one of which was the federal public health emergency, which will be ending.

Health organizations such as Bicycle Health, a virtual addiction medicine clinic, has taken action to educate their patients that may be potentially impacted. Additionally, the Association Of American Medical Colleges have issued letters urging the DEA to remove the in person visit requirement stating that the proposed rules “reduce access to life saving treatment and would disproportionally affect groups that have been historically marginalized or made vulnerable.”


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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