On May 10, 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) jointly issued a temporary rule to extend exceptions granted to existing DEA regulations that allow providers to prescribe controlled medications with telemedicine visits even if the provider has not seen the patient in person. This exception began in March 2020 as part of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The extension will apply through November 11, 2023 and provides a grace period for certain telemedicine relationships through November 11, 2024.
This is an interim step while the DEA and Health and Human Services (HHS) consider revising proposed rules issued March 1, 2023. Expect to see a final set of one or more rules based on these proposed rules that grant certain telemedicine flexibilities going forward.
Interestingly, the extension was limited to six months "in an effort to disincentivize the creation of telemedicine companies that may seek to engage in problematic prescribing practices." The DEA has also indicated they are currently investigating telemedicine companies with troublesome practices leading to overprescribing and potential drug diversion.