Biden proposal would ban online prescription of some drugs

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The Biden administration on Friday proposed tougher limits on online prescriptions of some drugs, including the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall and highly addictive opioids like oxycodone, a partial reversal of policy changes made during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules, which will require health care providers to have at least one in-person visit with patients before prescribing or refilling certain drugs, will go into effect on May 11, the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a statement. Will come into effect after the emergency is over. statement.

The rise of telemedicine has expanded access to health care during the pandemic, especially in rural areas. Critics have said this allowed doctors to write millions of prescriptions without ever meeting the patients – creating the potential for abuse.

The rule change, part of the DEA’s efforts to combat the deadly opioid epidemic in the United States, seeks to balance the benefits of telehealth with greater safeguards, according to the agency.

Some experts, including addiction treatment advocates, call them overly restrictive, potentially making it difficult for patients to get the care they need. Matthew Cortlandt, a senior fellow at Data for Progress, a left-wing think tank, said on twitter Restricting access to drugs like buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid use disorder, “will kill people.” Opioid overdose deaths in 2021 to reach record high.

But some health care providers and law enforcement officials have praised the stricter rules for preventing misuse and abuse of controlled substances. DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said the decision to propose the rules was made because of improper prescriptions by online telehealth companies during the pandemic.

A Times investigation found that ketamine prescriptions via telemedicine to treat depression had raised concerns about the potential for abuse and a lack of oversight. Some clinics providing telemedicine services for ketamine treatment did not perform adequate screening or follow-up care, potentially leading patients to receive the drug without proper medical supervision.

Under the proposed rules, some drugs, including Adderall and OxyContin, would first require an in-person meeting with the prescriber. For some others, including buprenorphine and some non-narcotic drugs such as Ambien, Valium, Xanax and ketamine, medical practitioners would be allowed to prescribe a month’s supply via telemedicine with in-person consultations required for refills. Patients will still be able to obtain medications such as antibiotics, skin creams, birth control and insulin entirely through telemedicine.

The agency said the proposal would go through a 30-day period of public comment, after which the DEA would issue a final rule.

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