Telehealth groups urge DEA to release rules for virtual electronic prescribing

With current pandemic-era telemedicine flexibilities set to expire at the end of 2024, several telehealth groups and major health care systems are calling on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to accelerate work on crafting a new proposed rule regulating the prescribing of controlled substances via telehealth.

The American Telemedicine Association, the Alliance for Connected Care, the Consumer Technology Association, the Partnership to Advance Virtual Care, Allina Health, Johns Hopkins, Mass General Brigham and HIMSS (parent company of Healthcare IT news) were just a few of more than 200 organizations urging the DEA that new regulations are critical.


While the letteraddressed to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, commended the agency for expanding flexibility in telemedicine, and was quick to point out that the clock is ticking.

“Now that the first quarter of 2024 has passed, we are writing to request that the DEA expedite publication of a revised proposed rule to authorize and regulate the prescribing of controlled substances via telehealth,” the organizations said.

In asking the DEA to expedite the release of a revised proposed rule to authorize and regulate the prescribing of controlled substances via telehealth as quickly as possible, they said timeliness is critical for access to mental health care, substance abuse disorders and other telehealth.

“Given the complexity of these issues and the significant interest from stakeholders (as evidenced by more than 38,000 public comments received by DEA on proposed rules), DEA should plan to ensure that stakeholders have sufficient time to provide feedback on any policy proposal “, they said.

In addition to the sufficient time it would take to create a dedicated registration process for telehealth prescribers, there is also the time it would take for healthcare providers, pharmacies, and other related services to meet operational requirements and guardrails.

The physician shortage, particularly acute in the behavioral health field, is a major factor in accomplishing the task of a new national drug registration program.

“While we hope that the final regulations preserve patient access, any policy change that requires patients to seek in-person care would be extremely disruptive due to long turnaround times and wait times in the office,” the organizations said in the letter.


In 2023, the DEA expanded telehealth prescribing flexibility and held public listening sessions to discuss prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine platforms and potential safeguards to detect abuse, and to consider a telehealth controlled substance registry.

When senators and others questioned the DEA’s position, the agency said it needed more comment before moving forward with a filing. extension of flexibility until the end of 2024 on October 6, 2023.

“We stand on the precipice of history. We have the opportunity to solve a special registration process under this administration that has evaded multiple administrations for decades,” said Robert Krayn, CEO and co-founder of Talkiatry. Healthcare IT news in September.


“If DEA were to create a dedicated registration process for telehealth prescribers, as proposed by DEA and many stakeholders, significant operational lead time would be required to implement the new process and meet other potential operational requirements and guardrails,” the stakeholders said in their letter to Milgram.

Andrea Fox is editor-in-chief of Healthcare IT News.

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.