The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a temporary rule to extend certain flexibilities given during the public health emergency (PHE). This rule is effective from May 11, 2023 to November 11, 2023 with an additional 12 month extension if certain requirements are met as described below.

Background: To avoid lapses in care during the Covid-19 PHE, the DEA granted exceptions to standing regulations. These exceptions allowed providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without an in-person evaluation, and the exception was set to expire with the PHE.

Earlier this year on March 1, 2023, the DEA and HHS proposed two rules for telemedicine prescribing of controlled medications without an in-person evaluation. The proposed rules received a record of 38,369 public comments and are currently under review for potential revisions. The agencies are working towards final and permanent set of regulations that will permit telemedicine under certain circumstances consistent with public health, safety, and effective diversion controls.

What’s Changed? The DEA and SAMHSA issued a temporary rule on May 9, 2023 that will ensure providers can continue to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person evaluation until November 11, 2023. Additionally, the new temporary rule allows for the following:

  • The complete telemedicine flexibilities for the prescription of controlled medications that were enacted during the COVID-19 PHE will remain in effect until November 11, 2023.
  • Further, if a patient and a practitioner established a telemedicine relationship, meaning the provider has prescribed controlled medications to the patient, prior to 11/11/2023, then the same telemedicine flexibilities regarding the prescription of controlled medications will be allowed until November 11, 2024.

Summary: The temporary rule will prevent lapses in care while the DEA and HHS work to review the proposed rules that are targeting a permanent set of regulations with regards to prescribing controlled medications without an in-person evaluation.


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