New rules proposed by the USDrug Enforcement Administration(DEA) will allow physicians to writeprescriptions for 90-day supplies ofpotent painkillers and otherSchedule II controlled substances,including OxyContin (oxycodone)and Ritalin (methylphenidate).
DEA officials said that the proposedrule change "will make it easierfor patients with chronic pain orother chronic conditions to avoidmultiple trips to a physician." Underthe plan, physicians must firstdetermine that a patient has a legitimatemedical need for the prescribedsubstance before prescribinga 90-day supply of drugs.
Along with the regulatory proposal,the agency released a new policystatement requested by pharmacistsand physicians to clarify the DEA'sposition on "Dispensing ControlledSubstances for the Treatment ofPain." The new policy statement outlinesthe DEA's requirement thatcontrolled substances be prescribedonly for a legitimate medical purpose.It also elaborates on theagency's policy of taking legal actionagainst physicians who illegally prescribecontrolled substances.
"The statement reflects an awarenessof patients' needs as well asthe importance of preventing anyillegal diversion of prescriptiondrugs," said DEA AdministratorKaren P. Tandy.