DEA Announces Plans to Permit Prescriptions of Controlled Substances via Telehealth

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 prohibits providers from prescribing or dispensing controlled substances in the absence of a valid in-person encounter, with limited exceptions. One such exception permits a practitioner who has obtained “special registration” to prescribe a controlled substance for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional practice as a result of a telemedicine encounter that permits the prescriber to obtain sufficient medical information from the patient.

Pursuant to the Special Registration for Telemedicine, signed into law as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, the DEA was required to promulgate final regulations permitting providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine in limited circumstances by October 24, 2019. Although this deadline has passed, the DEA recently proposed to amend, and therefore permit, the special registration requirements contained in the Ryan Haight Act. The registration requirements are not yet available but are expected in December 2019.

The proposed rule will allow providers to prescribe clinically appropriate and medically necessary controlled substances after conducting a bona fide telemedicine encounter. Frier Levitt will continue to monitor the progress of the DEA in this matter and provide updates on this proposed rule. Contact Frier Levitt for guidance of your current or proposed telemedicine plan.