DEA recently announced a significant change to its registration renewal process.

For several years, DEA’s registration unit has allowed for a grace period for registrants who file an untimely application for renewal. While DEA’s regulations do not contemplate such a grace period, registrants, especially individual practitioners, were allowed to keep their existing registration number — which was considered valid and active during the grace period — despite the failure to file a timely renewal application and despite multiple notifications from DEA.

On its website, DEA indicated that starting January 1, 2017, DEA will only send out one renewal notification, the renewal will be sent to the registrant’s “mail to” address, and no other reminders will be provided by DEA.

More importantly, DEA indicated that a failure to file a renewal application by midnight Eastern Time of the expiration date, the registrant’s DEA number will be retired and a new registration number will be issued upon the filing of a new application for DEA registration.

This change in DEA’s longstanding policy will certainly impact the approximately 1.6 million doctors and mid-level practitioners registered with DEA. It will also cause a ripple effect throughout the entire supply chain requiring additional diligence and scrutiny of DEA registration numbers.