18 October 2023

Second Temporary Extension Of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities For Prescription Of Controlled Medications

Riker Danzig LLP


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On October 10, 2023, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS"), published...
United States Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences
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On October 10, 2023, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), in concert with the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS"), published 88 FR 69879, which set forth a temporary rule extending COVID-19 flexibilities for the prescription of certain controlled substances. This is the second extension of such flexibilities. The first extension was issued on May 1, 2023. This second extension allows the flexibilities to the end of 2024.

The exceptions that were extended include flexibilities for prescribing Schedule II-V controlled medications, including buprenorphine, pursuant to the practice of telemedicine in instances where the prescribing practitioner has never conducted an in-person medical evaluation of the patient. These exceptions were originally developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid lapses in care for patients. After the DEA conducted telemedicine listening sessions in September 2023, the DEA formally opted to extend this temporary rule on May 1, 2023 to avoid difficulties and gaps in care as it considers revisions to new rules. For details with regards to the flexibilities, see Riker Danzig's blog post from May 2023. With this second extension, providers can continue to use telemedicine to prescribe certain controlled substances through the end of 2024.

The DEA reasoned that the temporary rule's purpose is "to ensure a smooth transition for patients and practitioners that have come to rely on the availability of telemedicine for controlled medication prescriptions, as well as allowing adequate time for providers to come into compliance with any new standards or safeguards." The DEA also noted that it is working to promulgate new standards or safeguards by the fall of 2024.

The full text of the temporary rule can be found here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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