Biden Admin Moves to Reinstate Pre-Pandemic Rules on Access to Powerful Prescription Drugs

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

In a positive sign that the Biden administration is starting to acknowledging the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, the Drug Enforcement Administration released a proposal on Friday that would reinstate the “longstanding” rules on how Americans access some of the most powerful prescription drugs.



WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration moved Friday to require patients see a doctor in person before getting attention deficit disorder medication or addictive painkillers, toughening access to the drugs against the backdrop of a deepening opioid crisis.

The proposal could overhaul the way millions of Americans get some prescriptions after three years of relying on telehealth for doctor’s appointments by computer or phone during the pandemic.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said late Friday it plans to reinstate once longstanding federal requirements for powerful drugs that were waived once COVID-19 hit, enabling doctors to write millions of prescriptions for drugs such as OxyContin or Adderall without ever meeting patients in person.

Patients will need to see a doctor in person at least once to get an initial prescription for drugs that the federal government says have the the most potential to be abused — Vicodin, OxyContin, Adderall and Ritalin, for example. Refills could be prescribed over telehealth appointments.

Remember that it was just late January, when the White House announced the public health emergency for COVID-19 would be ending on May 11. It appears this is a part of the process leading up to that date.


While it’s a welcome change, the AP notes that the administration continues to lag behind the states in putting things back to normal post-pandemic:

Many states have already moved to restore limitations for telehealth care across state lines. By October, nearly 40 states and Washington, D.C., had ended emergency declarations that made it easier for doctors to see patients in other states.

The DEA’s new proposal comes as a stark contrast to Joe Biden’s failure to keep one of his presidential campaign promise–to end the fentanyl crisis. As my colleague Joe Cunningham reminded us recently, that broken promise has “created an epidemic of overdoses” across the country.


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