Americans United for Life filed a comment in support of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Proposed Rule, “Telemedicine Prescribing of Controlled Substances When the Practitioner and the Patient Have Not Had a Prior In-Person Medical Evaluation.” The Proposed Rule restricts telemedical prescriptions for schedule II drugs and narcotics unless the practitioner has a qualifying telemedicine referral. As our comment explained, physician-assisted suicides use lethal dosages of schedule II and narcotic drugs, which means these drugs have a high risk of abuse. Telemedicine restrictions ensure these risks are not exacerbated. 

Defending Patients From Suicide Drug Abuse

Congress delegated authority to DEA to establish safeguards against assisted suicide drug abuse. Telemedicine restrictions are especially important because assisted suicide doctors are using experimental drug compounds directly on patients without the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval or clinical trials. Existing “safeguards” within assisted suicide laws inadequately protect patients against abuse and coercion. 

The Proposed Rule not only promotes patient safety, but also furthers Congress’ public policy stance of suicide prevention. Studies show that when a jurisdiction decriminalizes assisted suicide, the rates of non-assisted suicide also increase. Congress has sought to limit the harmful effects of suicide assistance through the Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act and robust conscience protections within Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act. Accordingly, AUL urged DEA to retain the Proposed Rule and protect vulnerable patients from assisted suicide drug abuse. 

Suicide is not medicine and inherently has high risks of coercion and abuse,” explains Carolyn McDonnell, AUL Litigation Counsel. “Telemedical suicide assistance increases these risks. The Proposed Rule ensures a patient receives an in-person medical evaluation before receiving a lethal drug prescription. This is a common-sense measure that defends patient health and safety.”