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Volume X, Number 190

July 07, 2020

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July 06, 2020

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DEA Allows Providers to Prescribe Controlled Substances Without an In-Person Medical Examination During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued guidance permitting DEA-registered practitioners to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person medical exam of the patient for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. To issue such prescriptions without an in-person exam, a DEA-registered practitioner must meet the following requirements:

  • The prescription is for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice;

  • The telemedicine communication with the patient is conducted using an audio-visual, real-time, two-way interactive communication system; and

  • The practitioner is acting in accordance with applicable Federal and State law.

Practitioners may either (1) issue electronic prescriptions for Schedule II through V controlled substances, (2) call a pharmacy with an emergency prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance, or (3) call a pharmacy for any other prescription for a Schedule III-V controlled substance.

Note that a prescribing practitioner that has conducted an in-person medical exam of the patient may issue a controlled substances prescription after communicating with the patient by telemedicine (or other means) even if there is no public health emergency. In such a case, the prescription must be for a legitimate medical purpose and the practitioner must be acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice and in accordance with applicable laws.

Copyright © 2020 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 78


About this Author

Nathaniel Arden, Health Care and Intellectual Property Attorney, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Hartford, Connecticut

Nathaniel Arden is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Health Law Group. He advises hospitals, health systems, physician groups, community providers, and other health care entities on a variety of health law and business issues. His practice focuses on health care-related regulatory and transactional matters, as well as health care-related information technology issues. Nathaniel has an extensive background in the healthcare industry, and he worked at a large academic medical center prior to joining the firm.