Telemedicine Prescribing of Controlled Substances When the Practitioner and the Patient Have Not Had a Prior In-Person Medical Evaluation

When the public health emergency ends, so do many of the waivers that were created to facilitate healthcare during the pandemic. One such concession involves the The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (the “Act”).

Generally, the Act provides that no controlled substance may be delivered, distributed, or dispensed by means of the Internet without a valid prescription. A valid prescription requires a medical practitioner to conduct at least one in-person medical evaluation of a patient before issuing a prescription for a controlled substance. There are seven exceptions, one of which is during a public health emergency.

For the past three years, many telehealth providers have become accustomed to prescribing controlled substances following a telehealth visit, without first conducting an in-person exam.

With the PHE coming to an end in May, an in-person exam will be required. However, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has proposed rules to that will create additional flexibilities on the timing and manner for obtaining an in-person exam.

Federal Register