There has been a lot of bad press lately with regards to prescription pain medication. Prescribed opiates are getting the blame for ramping up the latest opioid crisis in America. It may come as no surprise therefore, that finding an online prescription for pain medication is a lot trickier than other prescriptions like antibiotics.
Because of this, there has been a crackdown on controlled substances and many doctors refer out as they no longer feel comfortable writing these types of prescriptions. Each doctor is different and there are certain regions in the US that are more strict than others. States like West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Kentucky are among the top states affected by opioid overdose and have some of the strictest regulations restricting these medications.
Ryan Haight’s overdose changed the game with regards to online prescriptions. He obtained pain medication online without a prescription and this was enough for Congress to make some changes at the federal level.
In 2008 Congress passed the Ryan Haight Act. The Ryan Haight Act was created to regulate online prescriptions and is enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This is why when it comes to controlled substances you won’t be able to simply click a few links before you are heading out the door to pick up your prescription at your local pharmacy.
The Ryan Haight Act made it so that practitioners would have to follow a few key points before writing a pain medicine prescription. Let’s take a look!
- Practitioners who wish to issues any prescription for any controlled substance must first conduct an in-person evaluation. Practitioners are required to repeat the in-person evaluation after a period of 24 months.
- Any Prescriber who is working within a federal health care system must familiarize themselves with that particular organization’s policy. Veteran’s Affairs, for example, may qualify for special circumstances.
- Practitioners will also need to be sure that they are compliant with any other state or federal rules and policies regarding controlled substances.
So it does appear as though an individual can be prescribed pain medication online but not without an in-person evaluation. A refilled prescription after the initial evaluation is a much more likely scenario. In 2018 Congress did propose a few changes in the “Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment Act”
The “Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment Act” aims to assist patients who are in addiction recovery or in mental health facilities. These facilities should apply to become DEA registered. If your clinic is DEA registered then telemedicine provides will be able to prescribe pain medication at those facilities without an in-person prescription. This is especially useful with regards to the prescription of Methadone for patients who are suffering from an Opiate Abuse Disorder.
Seven Exceptions to the Ryan Haight Act of 2008
(Instances in which you can get prescription pain medicine online)
Exception One: Treatment in a Hospital or Clinic. Patients may opt for telemedicine prescriptions while being treated in a hospital or clinic.
Exception Two: The patient is in the physical presence of another practitioner.
Exception Three: Telemedicine in offered through an Indian Health Service or tribal organization.
Exception Four: The Secretary of Health has declared a public health emergency
Exception Five: The practitioner has obtained a special registration under section 311(h) of the Act (21 U.S.C. 831(h))
Exception Six: The department of veteran affairs has declared a medical emergency:
- The patient is prevented from being in the presence of a practitioner
- Patient prevented from being physically present in a hospital
- Primary care physician unable to provide care
- Another practitioner believes prescription will prevent further injury or death by a registered veteran health practitioner
Exception Seven: Other circumstances.
If you are on the lookout for an online prescription pain medication, it is not entirely possible but is not the easiest prescription to obtain for good reasons. We mentioned earlier that a number of primary care providers are finding it difficult to prescribe these types of medications during a visit. The opiate epidemic has made it difficult for patients who truly need these prescriptions to have access to them. If you are in pain and struggling to gain access to the appropriate medications for pain take a look at our checklist to see how you may be able to move past this roadblock.
Pain Medication Check List
Assess your own pain. Do you need a prescription? Is an over the counter option going to work well or are there other therapies that will help you to get past your pain
Book an appointment with your primary care provider. If you haven’t already done so do talk to your primary care provider about your pain. S/he may be able to recommend movements to help alleviate the pain or may write your prescription based off of your in-person evaluation.
Ask for a referral to see a pain specialist. If your primary care provider is not sure about prescribing you a pain medication S/he can always write you a prescription with a pain specialist.
Take data on your pain and have your information ready to share with your pain specialist.
Finding relief from pain is tricky but taking the necessary steps will help you to have access to online pain medication prescriptions down the road.