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Prescribing Controlled Substances During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Date: 04/22/20

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has adopted policies to allow DEA-registered practitioners to prescribe controlled substances without having to interact in-person with their patients. These policies and processes are spelled out in How to Prescribe Controlled Substances to Patients During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PDF). These policies are effective beginning March 31, 2020, and will remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency, unless DEA specifies an earlier date.

Please note: The chart linked above addresses prescribing controlled substances; it does not address administering or direct dispensing of controlled substances, including by Narcotic Treatment Programs (NTPs) or hospitals. This decision tree merely summarizes the policies for quick reference and does not provide a complete description of all requirements. Full details are available on DEA's COVID-19 webpage, and codified in relevant law and regulations.

Under federal law, all controlled substance prescriptions must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice. In all circumstances when prescribing a controlled substance (including those summarized in the chart), the practitioner must use his/her sound judgment to determine that s/he has sufficient information to conclude that the issuance of the prescription is for a bona fide medical purpose. Practitioners must also comply with applicable state law.

For any questions, please contact Superior’s Pharmacy Department at 1-800-218-7453, ext. 22080.

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