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Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008

  • Ryan Haight Act
  • Jay Shore, M.D., M.P.H.

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was created to regulate online internet prescriptions, is enforced by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and also imposes rules around the prescription of controlled substances through telepsychiatry (live interactive videoconferencing).

  • The Act requires any practitioner issuing a prescription for a controlled substance to conduct an in-person medical evaluation (with certain specified exemptions). A conservative recommendation to support compliance with the act is to conduct an in-person exam at least once every 24 months.
  • The Act also describes special circumstances such as covering prescribers, and prescribing within a federal health care system (e.g. Indian Health System; Department of Veteran’s Affairs). Psychiatrists working in federal health care systems should be familiar with their organization’s policy around the telepsychiatric prescribing of controlled substances.
  • In addition to complying with the Ryan Haight Act, psychiatrists need to make sure they comply with other federal, state and organizational rules and policies around the prescription of controlled substances.


  1. Update on Developments with Ryan Haight and Online Prescribing. APA Telepsychiatry Blog. March 22, 2018.
  2. Implementation of the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008. DEA and Department of Justice. Federal Register, Vol 74 (64) Monday April 6, 2009. Rules and Regulations.

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