COVID-19 Rule on Telehealth Gets Extension

Pharmacy TimesJune 2023
Volume 89
Issue 6

The DEA’s decision allows some health care providers to have more leeway in prescribing certain controlled substances.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are extending emergency telehealth policies set during the COVID-19 pandemic for 6 months, which is great news for patients.

Male doctor in white coat typing on laptop computer keyboard with medical stethoscope on the desk in medical room at clinic or hospital. Online medical technology, emr, telehealth or meditech concept. | Image Credit: NIKCOA -


The DEA’s decision allows some health care providers to have more leeway in prescribing certain controlled substances. This includes buprenorphine for opioid addiction and some stimulants, such as amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall; Teva Pharmaceuticals), which is used to manage attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The DEA extension allows health care providers to write these prescriptions to patients after evaluating them via phone or video. The agency also introduced policies for buprenorphine that would require patients to visit their prescribers for in-person exams within 30 days, but patients who began buprenorphine treatment under emergency rules would have a 180-day grace period before they would need to visit their providers in person.

“The DEA received a record 38,000 comments on its proposed telemedicine rules. We take those comments seriously and are considering them carefully,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.

“We recognize the importance of telemedicine in providing Americans with access to needed medications, and we have decided to extend the current flexibilities for 6 months while we work to find a way forward to give Americans that access with appropriate safeguards,” she said.

“Access to evidence-based treatment is a pillar of the [US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)] Overdose Prevention Strategy,” Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, HHS assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA, said in the statement. “We strongly support policies that promote access to effective and safe treatment for opioid use disorder, including through telemedicine platforms, and ensuring continued access to necessary controlled medications past the [COVID-19 public health emergency].”

Let’s hope the DEA makes those rules permanent when the 6-month extension period expires on November 11, 2023. Pharmacy Times® will follow the developments.

Meanwhile, in this issue of Pharmacy Times, we look at rashes in the Cover Feature and offer advice on what to tell patients about managing this skin issue. In addition, pharmacy professionals can find articles on diabetic retinopathy treatment, tips for allergy relief, and how to help patients maintain bone health to stave off osteoporosis.

Thanks for reading.


DEA, SAMHSA extend COVID-19 telemedicine flexibilities for prescribing controlled medications for six months while considering comments from the public. News release. Drug Enforcement Administration. May 9, 2023. Accessed May 19, 2023.

Related Videos
Concept of health care, pharmaceutical business, drug prices, pharmacy, medicine and economics | Image Credit: Oleg -
Image credit: |
Medical team -- Image credit: Flamingo Images |
Semaglutide Ozempic injection control blood sugar levels | Image Credit: myskin -
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.