In light of the nationwide public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 31, 2020, as a result of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is exercising its authorities to provide flexibility in the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances to ensure necessary patient therapies remain accessible. As part of this effort, DEA has partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to ensure authorized practitioners may admit and treat new patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) during the public health emergency. DEA has already announced that practitioners may prescribe controlled substances to patients using telemedicine without first conducting an in-person evaluation during this public health emergency under 21 U.S.C. 802(54)(D). Today, DEA notes that practitioners have further flexibility during the nationwide public health emergency to prescribe buprenorphine to new and existing patients with OUD via telephone by otherwise authorized practitioners without requiring such practitioners to first conduct an examination of the patient in person or via telemedicine. This additional flexibility under which authorized practitioners may prescribe buprenorphine to new patients on the basis of a telephone evaluation is in effect from March 31, 2020, until the public health emergency declared by the Secretary ends, unless DEA specifies an earlier date.
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