The Washington Post reports that the Biden Administration is preparing to pull back recent Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance designed to expand access to prescribing buprenorphine for opioid use disorders (OUD).

On January 14, 2021, HHS published Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder.  In a nutshell the guidelines eliminated certain X-waiver certification requirements, allowing any DEA-registered prescriber to issue buprenorphine prescriptions for medication-assisted treatment of OUDs.  The HHS notice does not reference any coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and DEA has yet to publicly comment on this change.
Continue Reading Not So Fast: Biden Expected to Halt Expansion of Buprenorphine Prescribing

As I was reviewing the public comments regarding the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) providing a much-needed update to the agency’s suspicious order regulations, I noticed a similar issue raised by multiple commenters.  Apart from the myriad of comments and requests seeking greater clarity from DEA on several definitions and provisions, there appears to remain a misunderstanding of using the 5% rule for distributions amongst practitioners.

Continue Reading Confusion Persists with the 5% Rule

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (NPRM)  regarding suspicious orders of controlled substances. This will likely be the most heavily scrutinized rule issued by DEA this year. Registrants impacted by this rule should submit comments within sixty (60) days of publication in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading DEA Creates Two-Option Framework for Reporting Suspicious Orders

On October 5, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) establishing a registration category for emergency medical services (EMS) agencies and the corresponding regulatory requirements for the new category of registrants.  This regulatory action implements the ‘‘Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017 (the Act). The NPRM includes the following provisions mandated by the Act:
Continue Reading DEA Establishes Registration Category for EMS Agencies

Prescription and magnifying glassWith the filing of two class action lawsuits, one against Walgreens and Costco, and one against CVS, in two federal district courts on August 6, pharmacies find themselves in a perplexing situation (yet again). For these suits were filed not by those who suffered from the over-dispensing of opioids, but by chronic pain patients who were denied opioid medication by pharmacies.
Continue Reading Lawsuits Filed Against Retail Chain Pharmacies: The Corresponding Responsibility Catch-22

Theft and Loss Reporting

On July 29, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) related to the reporting of thefts or significant losses of controlled substances.  Specifically, DEA proposes two changes to the reporting process:
Continue Reading DEA Proposes Changes to Theft/Loss Reporting and Finalizes New Registration Fees

On June 5, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received an Interim Final Rule from the Drug Enforcement Administration titled, Implementation of the SUPPORT Act: Dispensing and Administering Controlled Substances for Medicated-Assisted Treatment.  This rule implements certain provisions of the SUPPORT Act “relating to the expansion of medication-assisted treatment providers and to the delivery of a controlled substance by a pharmacy to a practitioner.”
Continue Reading OMB Has a Backlog of DEA Regulatory Actions

A little more than 10 years ago the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an Interim Final Rule with Request for Comment regarding Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS).  The Interim Final Rule became effective on June 1, 2010.  DEA received over 200 comments but never issued a Final Rule.

On April 21, 2020, DEA issued a second Interim Final Rule regarding EPCS, this time re-opening the comment period to obtain additional feedback from industry.  While this is a somewhat unorthodox approach, it is a prudent step toward finalizing the EPCS rule.
Continue Reading DEA Re-Opens Comments for EPCS