Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Statement from the DEA Administrator Anne Milgram on COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications (5/3) - On May 3, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram released a statement on the COVID-19 telemedicine flexibilities for prescription of controlled medications. In the statement, DEA Administrator Milgram highlighted the DEA's submission of a draft temporary rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) entitled “Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications.” Further details about the rule will become public after its full publication in the Federal Register.
Digital Health Modern Healthcare: DEA Extends Flexibility Around Remote Prescribing (5/3) - DEA announced it is temporarily extending flexibilities that allow providers to prescribe certain controlled substances without an in-person appointment. The agency did not specify how long it would extend the flexibilities, which were set to expire May 11 at the end of the public health emergency. Full details will be made available when the extension is published in the Federal Register, according to the DEA.
“We are relieved that the DEA is listening to the mental health and substance abuse communities, and taking a pause to re-balance access to care with guarding against abuse,” said Krista Drobac, executive director at the Alliance for Connected Care. “We hope they go back to the original special registration process as called for by Congress.”
Health Leaders: DEA to Again Revise Telemedicine Prescribing Guidelines (5/3) - Strong backlash to the DEA's recent proposed rules around the prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine has prompted DEA Administrator Anne Milgram to unveil another proposal, which will soon be made public in the Federal Register. The Alliance for Connected Care and other leading professional associations, respected think tanks, and experienced clinicians submitted compelling and noteworthy comment letters explaining how the proposed rule will result in limitations on access to care, and harm patients in rural and urban areas alike.
Selected news coverage:
Healthcare Dive: DEA is temporarily extending pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities. The agency said that it needs additional time to parse through the record 38,000 public comments it received in response to a proposal to reintroduce stricter limits around telehealth prescribing.
The Washington Post: The Health 202 talked with two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details that weren’t public, and they said the flood of public comments on the proposal is just one factor delaying the release of a final rule. Dueling priorities between the federal agencies involved are also complicating the ongoing negotiation process.
Politico Pro: The agency’s announcement could signal it’s rethinking regulations it proposed in February that would have restricted telehealth access after the Biden Administration ended the emergency on May 11.
Axios: “You’re going to have confusion. You’re going to have threats of enforcement action. You’re going to have patients that don’t have access to medications," said Lynn Mehler, a partner at Hogan Lovells who specializes in controlled substances.
MedCity News: The Drug Enforcement Administration received 38,000 comments on its proposed rule that would roll back Covid-19 flexibilities for the prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine. In response, the DEA chose to temporarily extend the flexibilities, a decision telehealth companies are in support of.
Behavioral Health Business: The DEA’s statement did not say when the final rule would be released, and it’s not clear how long the extension will last. It’s also not clear how the final rule for telehealth and controlled substance prescribing will look after a massive and negative response from the public.
Fierce Healthcare: "We are hopeful this will minimize care disruptions for family physicians and their patients when the PHE ends next week. We look forward to continuing to work with DEA on final regulations that advance equitable, timely access to care and protect patient safety," said the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) in a statement.
Stat News: The DEA’s proposal and the controversy surrounding it are emblematic of a long-running tension between the public health field and law enforcement. While the public health world favors a treatment-centric approach, law enforcement officials typically favor strict crackdowns...