DEA weighs in on Covid-19 response

DEA-registered practitioners can prescribe without an in-person interview


The coronavirus pandemic is changing priorities across a wide swath of healthcare issues, including the Drug Enforcement Administration. DEA has considerable responsibilities across a range of controlled substances—including numerous Schedule II and III psychoactive drugs. It also controls the import of controlled-substance ingredients.

Based on a March 20 press release, DEA notes that there are currently no shortages of controlled substance ingredients, and no shortages of controlled substance drugs themselves.

On Jan. 31, as a result of the declaration of a public health emergency by HHS, DEA has loosened its regulations regarding the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. Prescribing practitioners are now permitted to issue prescriptions via telemedicine (I.e., without a face-to-face meeting), as long as it is for a “legitimate medical purpose” and meets other statutory requirements. On March 16, it also granted an exception for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (another HHS office) to allow for “doorstep delivery” of medications used in narcotic treatment programs.
These measures are temporary, pending resolution of the public health emergency declarations around the country.