Today, ahead of the expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued the “Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications” —a temporary rule that extends telemedicine flexibilities adopted during the COVID-19 PHE.
The temporary rule will take effect on May 11, 2023, and extends the full set of telemedicine flexibilities adopted during the COVID-19 PHE for six months—through November 11, 2023. For any practitioner-patient telemedicine relationships that have been or will be established up to November 11, 2023, the full set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding prescription of controlled medications established during the COVID-19 PHE will be extended for one-year—through November 11, 2024.
“The DEA received a record 38,000 comments on its proposed telemedicine rules. We take those comments seriously and are considering them carefully,” said Administrator Anne Milgram. “We recognize the importance of telemedicine in providing Americans with access to needed medications, and we have decided to extend the current flexibilities for six months while we work to find a way forward to give Americans that access with appropriate safeguards.”
“Access to evidence-based treatment is a pillar of the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “We strongly support policies that promote access to effective and safe treatment for opioid use disorder, including through telemedicine platforms, and ensuring continued access to necessary controlled medications past the COVID-PHE.”
On March 1, 2023, DEA, in concert with HHS, issued notices of proposed rulemakings (NPRM) to allow for prescribing of certain controlled medications via telemedicine without an in-person medical evaluation of the patient under circumstances that are consistent with public health, safety, and effective controls against diversion. The NPRMs received over 38,000 comments from the public and DEA, in collaboration with SAMHSA, is actively reviewing input in order to develop a permanent rule.