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.