The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced on Friday that it is proposing rules to make many flexibilities for telemedicine that were established amid the COVID-19 pandemic permanent, with certain safeguards.
The DEA said in a release that the rule will give patients access to virtual therapies beyond the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which is scheduled to conclude in May.
“DEA is committed to ensuring that all Americans can access needed medications,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “The permanent expansion of telemedicine flexibilities would continue greater access to care for patients across the country, while ensuring the safety of patients.
The rules would include certain safeguards for telemedicine consultations from a medical provider who has not conducted an in-person evaluation of a patient and that results in the provider prescribing the patient a controlled medicine.
They would allow medical providers to prescribe a 30-day supply of Schedule III and Schedule IV non-narcotic controlled drugs, which are the least likely to result in drug abuse, or a 30-day supply of buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder without an in-person evaluation or referral, according to the release.
The DEA added that the rules would not affect telemedicine consultations that do not involve prescribing controlled medications or those where the provider has conducted an in-person examination of the patient.
The updates would also not affect telemedicine consultations and prescriptions from a provider that a patient has been referred to as long as the referring provider has conducted an in-person examination.
The release states the rules further the DEA’s goal of expanding access to medication for people struggling with opioid addictions.
“Medication for opioid use disorder helps those who are fighting to overcome substance use disorder by helping people achieve and sustain recovery, and also prevent drug poisonings,” Milgram said.
Members of the public will be able to submit comments for 30 days on the proposals.