The global pandemic caused a worldwide shift toward telemedicine services, and with that societal change came a shift in internet pharmacy regulations. Read further to understand how the DEA’s new permanent rule changes can be traced back to their origin — an 18-year-old boy named Ryan Haight.
The Global Pandemic Caused a Historic Shift Toward Telemedicine — Altering Internet Pharmacy Regulations
This year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed permanent rules surrounding the prescribing of controlled medications via telehealth appointments. "The proposed rules would provide safeguards for a narrow subset of telemedicine consultations — those telemedicine consultations by a medical practitioner that has: never conducted an in-person evaluation of a patient; AND that result in the prescribing of a controlled medication."
The DEA Proposes to Make Two Significant Changes
These permanent changes only apply to certain telemedicine consultations, and would enable providers to prescribe the following, without requiring a prior in-person examination:
- a 30-day supply of Schedule III to Schedule V non-narcotic controlled medications
- a 30-day supply of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder
"DEA is committed to ensuring that all Americans can access needed medications," said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in the statement. "The permanent expansion of telemedicine flexibilities would continue greater access to care for patients across the country, while ensuring the safety of patients. DEA is committed to the expansion of telemedicine with guardrails that prevent the online overprescribing of controlled medications that can cause harm." For now, the DEA, jointly with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has extended current telemedicine flexibilities through December 31, 2024.
This All Began With the Ryan Haight Act in 2008
Ryan Haight was just 18 years old when he overdosed on Vicodin prescribed by a telehealth doctor who failed to conduct an adequate medical examination. The controlled substance was discreetly delivered to Haight by an online pharmacy. In 2008, Congress remembered Haight by passing the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act. In the years following, the use of telehealth services has continued to increase. This massive shift toward online care has incurred additional benefits, including cost savings and expanded access to healthcare. LegitScript predicted how a post-pandemic Ryan Haight Act may create uncertainty for telemedicine. Then, we considered how changes to the Ryan Haight Act could inspire a new era in telehealth — now that era is here.
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