On May 3, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a temporary extension of COVID-19 telemedicine flexibilities for prescription of controlled medications for six months, from May 12, 2023, through Nov. 11, 2023, provided all appropriate conditions are met. The rule also provides for a partial extension of telehealth flexibilities through Nov. 11, 2024, but only with respect to patients with whom the prescribing practitioner has a telemedicine relationship (i.e., the practitioner issued the patient a prescription for a controlled medication) established via COVID-19 telemedicine prescribing flexibilities on or before Nov. 11, 2023, and provided all appropriate conditions are met.

Appropriate conditions include the requirements that were in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency:

  • The prescription must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of professional practice.
  • The prescription must be issued pursuant to a communication between a practitioner and a patient using an interactive telecommunications system, which includes audio and video equipment permitting two-way, real-time interactive communication or, for prescriptions to treat a mental health disorder (which include prescriptions for buprenorphine for opioid use disorder) or a two-way, real-time audio-only communication if the distant site physician or practitioner is technically capable of using an interactive audio-video telecommunications system, but the patient is not capable of, or does not consent to, the use of video technology.
  • The practitioner must be authorized under his or her registration to prescribe the basic class of controlled medications specified on the prescription or exempt from obtaining a registration to dispense controlled medications.
  • The prescription must be consistent with all other requirements of the DEA and Department of Justice rules governing the issuance, filling, and filing of prescriptions.

Members may send questions about the DEA temporary flexibilities to coding@aasm.org.