Can online doctors prescribe Xanax (alprazolam)?

Written by Rebecca Farley | Reviewed by a licensed U.S. pharmacist | Posted mayo 31, 2020 | Updated julio 21, 2022

Under normal circumstances, doctors cannot prescribe alprazolam (brand name Xanax) via online consultations or over the phone because it is a controlled drug. Under the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (also called the Ryan Haight Act), providers cannot issue prescriptions for controlled drugs in the absence of an in-person medical evaluation performed by a licensed practitioner.

The DEA designates prescription drugs as “controlled” when they are addictive. Drugs such as alprazolam and lorazepam (brand name Ativan), which are classified as benzodiazepines, are schedule II controlled substances. Prescription opiates, such as fentanyl and hydrocodone, are the most addictive and dangerous controlled drugs. Obtaining these drugs without proper medical supervision carries greater risks than obtaining scripts for drugs like antibiotics or antihistamines. The Ryan Haight Act is meant to protect consumers from being overprescribed.

Like many laws, though, there are exceptions for exceptional circumstances. Under the Ryan Haight Act, physicians may write prescriptions for controlled substances using telemedicine if the situation qualifies for one of seven exemptions, one of which is a “state of emergency.”

Sure enough, as early as January 2020, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar placed the United States under a national public health state of emergency due to the novel coronavirus. With this in effect, the DEA declared that patients could now receive prescriptions for controlled substances via telemedicine. This temporary change may not last, but, even before the COVID-19 crisis, psychiatrists had been advocating for a looser interpretation of the Ryan Haight Act. Telemedicine and an alprazolam prescription may eventually have a lasting relationship.


What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the practice of remote healthcare via telecommunications such as video chats, text messaging systems, and even phone calls. Discussions surrounding telemedicine surged in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. With the U.S. healthcare system overwhelmed and stay-at-home orders in place to prevent the spread of the virus, issues like sore throats, pink eye, or headaches are often better served via remote consultation. If you seek non-COVID-19-related healthcare during this time, check with your provider regarding telemedicine options. While much can be done remotely, certain conditions or medical issues will require an in-person physical examination, such as ultrasounds or post-operative treatment.

In May 2020, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 48% of Americans delayed receiving healthcare due to the threat of the coronavirus. If you are sheltering in place, do your best to ensure you do seek healthcare for your condition, even if it is not COVID-19. Telemedicine can be hugely beneficial, and, depending on your condition, you may not even need to go to a clinic or hospital.

Telemedicine is legal across the United States, but states have individual laws governing it, particularly in relation to health insurance and medical licensing.

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Can I see a psychiatrist via telemedicine?

Yes. Additionally, if you are enrolled in Medicare, you can now switch to telemedicine without losing your coverage, an allowance made by the Coronavirus Preparedness Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. (Previously, the use of telemedicine might have forced Medicare enrollees to pay in cash.) According to the American Psychiatry Association, the HHS is also waiving fees related to violations of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), federal rules that protect our privacy, that may occur through improper telemedicine software, or negligent use of that software.

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Have there been efforts to loosen the Ryan Haight Act?

Yes. Dr. Robert Caudill, the Director of Telemedicine and Information Technology Programs at the University of Louisville, wrote in a blog post for the American Psychiatry Association that several APA members wrote a letter to the DEA in 2015 requesting amendments to the Ryan Haight Act, specifically to allow psychiatrists to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person exam.

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Where can I find cheaper Xanax?

Please note that you should not order controlled substances from other countries over the Internet. The safest and most reputable Canadian and other international online pharmacies do not sell controlled substances to the U.S.

Moreover, generic Xanax is affordable, even cheap, in the U.S. PharmacyChecker offers a free U.S. pharmacy discount card that works for most drugs at the majority of local pharmacies. The U.S. Prescription Discount Card can get you almost 70% off of your alprazolam prescription.

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Comparing Alprazolam (Xanax) Prices

Drug Strength Quantity Average U.S. Retail Price PharmacyChecker U.S. Discount Card Price Percentage Savings
Xanax (Alprazolam) 0.5 mg 30 tablets $229.75 $168.47 27%
Alprazolam (generic) 0.5 mg 30 tablets $18.02 $5.68 68%

Sources: Average U.S. Retail Price calculated based on pricing on PharmacyChecker U.S. Discount Card Price based on availability at pharmacies near New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Where is Xanax (alprazolam) manufactured?

Generic alprazolam sold in the U.S. is manufactured in India. A representative for Pfizer told PharmacyChecker that brand-name Xanax is manufactured in Italy, Ireland, and the U.S. The pharmaceutical supply chain is often both complicated and lacking in transparency. In order to make sure exactly where your medication is manufactured, you will have to inquire about your specific prescription.

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Learn more about safely ordering medication online

Can I get a doctor's prescription online?

Can a pharmacy fill a prescription early?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Warnings on Potential Treatments

Do you have questions or concerns about safely accessing medication, whether locally or online? We’re here to help.

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