The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation negotiated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to obtain authority for Illinois NPs and PAs to prescribe limited quantities of Schedule II prescription drugs. Under the new regulations, NPs and PAs are limited to prescribing any five of the drugs categorized as Schedule II. Additionally, they may prescribe no more than a 30-day supply of any of those drugs for patients being treated under an NP collaborative agreement or written guidelines for PAs that includes a delegation of prescriptive authority with a licensed physician or podiatrist. An APN working independently at a hospital or surgical treatment center does not require a collaborative agreement.
The Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants (IAPA) played a vital role in bringing this prescribing privilege to reality by writing and working with the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) on a bill to effect this change, said IAPA president Sarah Smalley, MMS, PA-C. Smalley explained that a successful 2008 bill allowed nurse practitioners to prescribe Schedule II drugs, but NPs were never able to do so because the DEA didn't act on it. In 2009, the Legislature passed two Schedule II prescribing bills - one specific to NPs and one specific to PAs. The bills had similar language at the request of ISMS. In August 2010, the department issued a press release with instructions for applying to prescribe Schedule II drugs.
"I would say it helped that the PAs and NPs had similar bills. I think this made it easier on the ISMS to come to an agreement with everyone involved," Smalley said.
The process for obtaining the prescribing license isn't simple or quick. Before applying to the DEA for a Schedule II permit, an NP or PA must first obtain a controlled substance prescribing license from the state or update their current controlled substances license to include Schedule II substances. The application for that license is available at www.IDFPR.com on the professional information pages for qualifying professions.
After receiving state license approval, an NP or PA must apply for a DEA permit.
"The IAPA worked long and hard to get this expanded practice privilege and hope to continue with more in the future," Smalley said.