On May 9, 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) filed a temporary rule extending the full set of telemedicine flexibilities for prescribing controlled substances, established by the COVD-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), through November 11, 2023. It also provides an additional one-year “grace period” through November 11, 2024, for telemedicine relationships that are, or will be, established on or before November 11, 2023. Specifically, the rule states:
- The full set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding prescription of controlled medications as were in place during the COVID-19 PHE will remain in place through November 11, 2023.
- Additionally, for any practitioner-patient telemedicine relationships that have been or will be established on or before November 11, 2023, the full set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding prescription of controlled medications as were in place during the COVID-19 PHE will continue to be permitted via a one-year grace period through November 11, 2024. In other words, if a patient and a practitioner have established a telemedicine relationship on or before November 11, 2023, the same telemedicine flexibilities that have governed the relationship to that point are permitted until November 11, 2024.
The rule, Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications, is in response to the thousands of comments DEA received on its proposed rule, published March 1, 2023. The proposed rule attracted significant concern from stakeholders because it called for an abrupt ending to the flexibilities put in place during the PHE, which could jeopardize patient access to care.
DEA is still evaluating the comments on the proposed rule and anticipates implementation of a final set of regulations. The goal of the temporary rule is to ensure a smooth transition for patients and practitioners 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 DEA and/or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) promulgate in final rulemaking.
Read the Association for Clinical Oncology’s summary of the proposed rule.
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