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Facing pushback from clinicians and patients, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has extended through November temporary pandemic rules for physicians and clinicians dispensing controlled drugs. The rules, which allow prescriptions of controlled medications or buprenorphine without an in-person visit, were set to end when the federal public health emergency ends May 11.

The temporary rules now will remain in effect through November 11, according to a DEA temporary rule released Tuesday. Clinician-patient relationships established before November 11 also will be allowed to continue for an additional year, through November 11, 2024.

The delay reflects the complexities of unwinding the many federal waivers and flexibilities granted to clinicians to make treatment more accessible during the pandemic.

Some telehealth waivers and flexibilities not involving controlled drugs have been extended through 2024. But the DEA in February proposed post-pandemic rules that would allow clinicians to remotely prescribe a 30-day supply of controlled drugs but also require an in-person visit for future prescriptions. Drugs covered by the proposed restrictions include Schedule III, IV, or V medications or buprenorphine for opioid use disorder.

The backlash was swift, however, as patients and clinicians flooded the DEA website with more than 38,000 public comments, most protesting the proposed rules. Head over to Medscape to read the full story.