Advocacy Alert

Urge Your Lawmakers to Support Essential Health System Designation

Proposed Rules on Prescribing Controlled Substances via Telemedicine

Faridat Animashaun
March 7, 2023

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, on Feb. 24, 2023, proposed two rules — the Telemedicine Controlled Substance Proposed Rule and the Telemedicine Buprenorphine Proposed Rule — that would extend many flexible provisions enacted during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) for prescribing controlled substances.

Under the proposed rules, prescriptions for Schedule II medications or narcotics would require an initial in-person visit. Medical practitioners could prescribe a 30-day supply of Schedule III–V non-narcotic controlled medications and a 30-day supply of buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder without an in-person evaluation or referral from a medical practitioner that has conducted an in-person evaluation. An in-person visit would be required to obtain a subsequent refill prescription in these cases where the original prescription was based on a telehealth visit.

If a provider and patient established a telemedicine relationship during the COVID-19 PHE, the DEA will extend the initial in-person visit requirement an additional 180 days from the final rules’ publication date.

The proposed rules do not affect:

  • Telemedicine consultations that do not involve prescribing controlled medications.
  • Telemedicine consultations by a provider that has previously conducted an in-person medical examination of a patient.
  • Telemedicine consultations and prescriptions from a provider to whom a patient has been referred, as long as the referring provider has conducted an in-person examination.

Comments on both proposed rules are due March 31.

Contact Director of Policy Rob Nelb, MPH, at rnelb@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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