The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it will continue to allow telehealth prescribing of controlled substances while it considers the 38,000 comments it received on its proposed rules for telehealth prescribing of medications, including buprenorphine, following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). ASHP has created an issue brief with additional detail on the DEA proposed rules.
During the PHE, DEA allowed flexibilities around telehealth prescribing of controlled substances to ensure continued patient access to critical services, including treatment for behavioral health and substance use disorders. Specifically, the PHE flexibilities allowed clinicians to prescribe controlled substances via telehealth without an initial in-person patient visit.
ASHP has advocated for more flexibility than what was included in the proposed rules, spearheading joint comments with other pharmacy organizations, as well as submitting separate buprenorphine and CIII-CV proposed rules. For now, the PHE flexibilities will remain, although DEA’s temporary rule allowing the extension has not yet been published and the agency has not yet stated publicly how long the extension will last.
“DEA made a smart choice to maintain patient access via telehealth, particularly for buprenorphine,” said Tom Kraus, ASHP vice president of government relations. “We hope the agency will provide a permanent framework that does not limit telehealth prescribing of buprenorphine and provides sufficient flexibility for telehealth prescribing of Schedule III-V medications.”
ASHP will update members as additional information about the extension of DEA telehealth prescribing flexibilities becomes available. Member questions should be sent to Jillanne Schulte Wall.