Governor extends waiver for chronic pain patients

April 9, 2020 Wayne Wenske

Updated March 2, 2021

April 9, 2020

In March 2020, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) announced that certain state requirements for chronic pain patients had been temporarily suspended by Governor Greg Abbott. The suspension — taken in response to the COVID-19 crisis — has been extended until May 1, 2021, "or for the duration of the time period that the Governor’s disaster declaration of March 13, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is in effect, whichever is shorter, pursuant to Section 2001.034 of the Texas Government Code." This new extension was announced by the TMB on March 2, 2021. (1)

According to the TMB's April 9, 2020 extension announcement,"The extended waiver continues to allow for telephone refill(s) of a valid prescription for treatment of chronic pain by a physician with an established chronic pain patient. The physician(s) remains responsible for meeting the standard of care and all other laws and rules related to the practice of medicine. The standard of care must still be maintained related to the treatment of chronic pain patients." (2)

This temporary suspension of Title 22, Chapter 174.5(e)(2)(A) of the Texas Administrative Code ("Limitation on Treatment of Chronic Pain") is intended to help chronic pain patients maintain continuity of care and avoid adverse consequences from abruptly running out of their pain medication.

According to the TMB's March 19, 2020 announcement, "This waiver follows the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announcement that health care professionals can prescribe controlled substances, including opioids, via telemedicine during the current coronavirus public health emergency." (3)


1.Emergency rule related to issuance of prescriptions renewed. Texas Medical Board. March 2, 2021 (email communication).

2. TMB Waiver for Chronic Pain Patients Extended by Governor Abbott. Press release. Texas Medical Board. April 9, 2020.

3. TMB Waiver for Chronic Pain Patients Granted by Governor Abbott. Press release. Texas Medical Board. March 19, 2020.

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About the Author

Wayne Wenske is Senior Marketing Coordinator at Texas Medical Liability Trust. He can be reached at

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