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Can I Continue to Prescribe While My DEA Registration is Pending Renewal?

By Ronald Chapman, II and Erica Chapman

A common question we receive from clients is, can I continue to prescribe if my DEA registration renewal is pending? When providers are under DEA investigation, the DEA field office that issued your registration will place your renewal in a pending status. Once your current DEA Registration expires, your DEA Registration status will show “expired.”

Many prescribers fear that they cannot prescribe while their DEA registration is in a pending status. However, this is not the case if the prescriber renewed their registration at least 45 days prior to expiration. Pursuant to 21 CFR 1301.36(i) if you submit your DEA renewal form at least 45 days prior to the expiration of your DEA registration, your registration will be automatically extended and continue in effect until the date on which the DEA chooses to take formal administrative action. This can provide those under DEA investigation some relief and the ability to continue to prescribe while administrative or criminal action is pending. Administrative action is a lengthy process, sometimes taking years to receive a final order by the DEA administrator revoking a registration. If you renew your registration at least 45 days prior to its expiration, you will be able to continue to prescribe until a final order is issued.

If you submitted your DEA renewal application prior to expiration, but not within 45 days of expiration, the DEA may allow you to prescribe, provided no final action has been taken on your renewal application. However, your DEA registration status will be “expired” until it is renewed or final action is taken. Under this status, pharmacies will likely be unwilling to fill your controlled substance prescriptions. Our attorneys have helped prescribers resolve this issue with big box pharmacies, allowing controlled substance scripts to be filled.

If you did not submit your renewal prior to expiration, you may not continue to prescribe. However, the DEA has authority to extend your current (expired) registration during their investigation. Contact our attorneys for assistance with DEA registration extensions.

If you are a physician, dentist, veterinarian, PA, NP or other prescriber, we strongly advise that you renew your registration at least 45 days prior to expiration. The typical processing time for a DEA 224a is 4 to 6 weeks. If your registration remains pending for more than 6 weeks, you may be under a DEA investigation.

If you believe you might be under investigation, you should call a DEA attorney immediately. Chapman Law Group is a full-service multi-state health law firm specializing in representing DEA registrations across the country in DEA registration matters and registration proceedings. Our knowledgeable DEA attorneys have extensive experience dealing with the DEA and defending clients accused of drug diversion, trafficking, controlled substance violations, compounding issues, “pill mill” allegations, and prescription fraud.