DEA Proposes to Make Telemedicine Flexibilities Permanent

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced last week that it is proposing rules to make permanent many flexibilities for telemedicine that were established amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with certain safeguards. The DEA said in a release that the rule will give patients access to virtual therapies beyond the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which is scheduled to conclude in May. The rules would include certain safeguards for telemedicine consultations from a medical provider who has not conducted an in-person evaluation of a patient and that results in the provider prescribing the patient a controlled medicine. They would allow medical providers to prescribe a 30-day supply of Schedule III and Schedule IV non-narcotic controlled drugs, which are the least likely to result in drug abuse, or a 30-day supply of buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder without an in-person evaluation or referral, according to the release. The DEA added that the rules would not affect telemedicine consultations that do not involve prescribing controlled medications or those where the provider has conducted an in-person examination of the patient. The updates would also not affect telemedicine consultations and prescriptions from a provider that a patient has been referred to if the referring provider has conducted an in-person examination.