DEA Proposes 90-day Painkiller Prescriptions

Currently, physicians prescribing a “Schedule II” controlled painkiller such as codeine or Oxycontin are required to limit any prescription to a 30-day supply – technically requiring patients with serious chronic pain to return for repeated office visits. But as of September 5, 2006, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed a change in the rule that would increase Schedule II prescriptions to 90 days.

The proposed change is intended to help physicians serve their patients’ legitimate pain control needs more cost-efficiently – in response to written expressions of concern from many doctors, according to the DEA. Also, the agency recognizes this would ease the minds of doctors who take advantage of a “loophole” in the current rule for selected patients: They may be issuing more than one 30-day prescription in the same office visit, since the rule does not explicitly prohibit this. “Today’s policy statement reaffirms that DEA wants doctors to treat pain as is appropriate under accepted medical community standards,” said DEA Administrator Karen Tandy. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period.