Biden Administration to Curb Adderall, OxyContin Telehealth Prescriptions
The Biden administration proposed tighter rules for telehealth prescriptions of certain medications in an attempt to combat the country’s opioid epidemic.
The Drug Enforcement Administration on Friday announced plans to reinstate federal requirements for drugs classified as controlled substances that were eased during the Covid-19 pandemic. The move would shrink the use of telehealth services that surged during the pandemic, and require an initial in-person prescription by a doctor for drugs the federal government says have the the most potential to be abused including Adderall, OxyContin, and Vicodin.
A DEA official said that there is a growing concern over improper prescribing by startup telehealth companies with addictive substances like opioids or attention deficit disorder medication, per AP.
Although the proposed legislation seeks to offer expanded access to patients in rural areas, the approach is a balancing act, according to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.
“DEA is committed to ensuring that all Americans can access needed medications,” said Milgram said in a statement Friday. “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.”
In 2020, the American Medical Association warned that “the nation’s opioid epidemic has grown into a much more complicated and deadly drug overdose epidemic,” largely due to the availability of “illicitly manufactured” fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. That year, overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent — from 70,630 in 2019 to more than 93,000 deaths, according to provisional 2020 data released by the CDC. In 2021, Milgram told The Washington Post that counterfeit drugs were contributing to an “overdose crisis” in the U.S.
And in Jan. this year, the CDC released provisional drug overdose death data, which showed 107,477 predicted overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending in August 2022.
Under the new rules, medical practitioners will only be allowed to prescribe a 30-day supply of Buprenorphine (used to treat opioid use disorder) and other non-narcotic controlled medications such as Ambien, Xanax, and Valium, through telehealth consultations. Afterwards, patients will need to see a doctor at least once in person to obtain refills.
The DEA seeks to have the new rule in place before the COVID-19 public health emergency expires on May 11.