DEA Proposes Permanent Telemedicine Rules

On February 24, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced proposed permanent rules for prescribing controlled medications via telemedicine beyond May 11, when the public health emergency ends.  A table highlights various scenarios under the proposal.

The proposed rules do not affect:

  • Telemedicine that does not involve prescribing controlled medications.
  • Telemedicine services by a provider who has previously seen the patient in person.
  • Telemedicine consultations and prescriptions by a practitioner to whom a patient has been referred, if the referring provider has previously seen the patient in person.

The proposed rules have safeguards for telemedicine by a practitioner who has never evaluated the patient in person; AND prescribes a controlled medication. In that case, until an in-person visit takes place, the rules only allow prescribing a 30-day supply of:

  • Schedule III-V non-narcotics; or
  • buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder

Schedule II and/or narcotic drugs cannot be prescribed via telemedicine only after May 11.

For patients who have only been seen during the pandemic via telemedicine, the proposal maintains current telehealth flexibilities for an additional 180 days from the end of the emergency to allow time for scheduling an in-person evaluation.  Click here for more scenarios that explain how the changes may affect physicians and patients.

The text of the proposals appeared in the March 1 Federal Register.

Public comments will be accepted until March 30, after which DEA will decide on final regulations.