The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is temporarily extending current COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) flexibilities for prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine.
As we covered in detail on this blog (PHE Ending: What You Need to Know), the federal PHE ends on May 11, 2023. At that point, absent action by the DEA or Congress, the end of the PHE would mean a return to in-person visits before providers could prescribe controlled substances.
Back in February, the DEA issued proposed rules that were intended to avoid a "prescribing cliff" where patients seen during the pandemic could no longer be seen under the permanent rules dating back to 2009. The medical community was not happy with the solution many saw as more restrictive than necessary and imposing barriers to care for many patients.
In a statement, the DEA acknowledged that it received a record number of comments from industry stakeholders and policymakers during the public comment period for its proposed rules. They noted, "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."
In response, the 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” in late April.
More details on the temporary rule will become public after its full publication in the Federal Register.
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