Telemedicine Prescriptions

Temporary Extension of Telemedicine Prescription Rule Approved & Effective Immediately


May 11, 2023 | Reading Time: 2 Minutes

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have joined forces to issue a temporary telemedicine prescription rule to extend certain exceptions to existing DEA telemedicine regulations. This action is designed to prevent any disruption in care for patients suffering from opioid use disorder who rely on telemedicine to obtain controlled medications.

Telemedicine Prescription Rule Background

The temporary rule, effective from May 11, 2023, through November 11, 2024, has been put in place after the DEA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) received 38,369 public comments regarding proposals to allow the prescription of controlled medications through telemedicine without necessitating an in-person medical evaluation. Working together, both organizations developed proposed rules outlined in two Notice of Proposed Rulemakings (NPRMs).

By issuing this temporary rule, the DEA and SAMHSA aim to guarantee a seamless transition to new regulations for patients and practitioners who depend on telemedicine for controlled medication prescriptions. The ultimate objective is to authorize telemedicine practices under conditions that align with public health and safety and provide adequate controls against drug diversion.

Provisions of Temporary Telemedicine Prescription Rule

To ensure continuous access to essential controlled medications beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), the following provisions have been implemented:

  • The comprehensive telemedicine flexibilities concerning the prescription of controlled medications, as established during the COVID-19 PHE, will remain in effect through November 11, 2023.
  • For any practitioner-patient telemedicine relationships initiated on or before November 11, 2023, the complete set of telemedicine flexibilities regarding controlled medication prescriptions, as previously implemented during the COVID-19 PHE, will continue to be allowed through a one-year grace period ending on November 11, 2024.
  • The DEA will continue to evaluate the comments received on the NPRMs and anticipate introducing a final set of regulations that enable telemedicine practices under circumstances consistent with public health, safety, and adequate controls against diversion.

By gathering comments and responding to their expressed needs, the DEA and SAMHSA actively support policies that facilitate access to safe and effective treatment for opioid use disorder through telehealth. They issued the new ruling on May 9, before the May 11 deadline marking the end of the PHE. This timely announcement will hopefully allow healthcare providers the time to comply with new standards or safeguards that may be established in related final rules as evidence and public comment continue to be evaluated.


This temporary rule aims to maintain the continuity of care for patients with opioid use disorder while ensuring the responsible prescription of controlled medications through telemedicine. By giving healthcare providers time to adapt to new regulations and extending certain exceptions, the DEA and HHS are helping to address the needs of those struggling with opioid use disorder.

A full copy of the temporary telemedicine prescription ruling is available through the SAMHSA website.

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