Controlled substances prescribing CME

NOTICE:  The Board has waived CME requirements for 2020 due to COVID-19. In determining compliance with the controlled substances CME requirements for ACSCs (two credits biennially) and QACSCs (four credits biennially), the Board will extend the two-year period to include 2020. If your two-year period was 2019-2020, it is now 2019-2021. If it was 2020-2021, it is now 2020-2022. Qualifying controlled substances CME credits earned in 2020 may be used to comply with the biennial requirement.

ACSC Registrants (MDs, DOs):

Any program conferring Category 1 Credit in the areas of:

  • controlled substance prescribing practices,
  • recognizing signs of the abuse or misuse of controlled substances, or
  • controlled substance prescribing for chronic pain management

is acceptable to meet the CME credits required of all Alabama Controlled Substances Certificate registrants every two years.  You do not need to obtain pre-approval of the courses you choose. 

Some examples of CME courses acceptable to meet the CME requirement:

QACSC Registrants (CRNPs, CNMs, PAs):

For an initial/additional QACSC, applicants must have completed the course, "Prescribing Controlled Drugs; Critical Issues and Common Pitfalls (8 credits)and four credits through a Board approved course that includes advanced pharmacology and controlled substances prescribing trends.

For renewal of a QACSC, registrants must obtain four AMA PRA Category 1TM or equivalent credits every two years through a Board-approved course or courses.  The following courses have been approved by the Board to meet this requirement:



Q:  I hold an ACSC but I am exempt from the annual 25-credit requirement for license renewal. Do I still have to obtain these credits?

A:  Yes. ACSC holders who are otherwise exempt from the CME requirement (residents, fellows, initial licensure year, military service) must still obtain the two credits every two years.

Q:  Does the Board have to pre-approve the courses I take? Does it have to be a live activity? Does it have to be obtained in Alabama?

A:  No. You do not need to obtain pre-approval from the Board for the course you choose. Just be sure the course confers AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ and is in one of the required areas. The course may be live, through the internet or any other method as long as the activity confers AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. It does not have to be obtained from a CME activity in Alabama.

Q:  If I obtained the CME in 2017, will that meet the new requirement?

A:  No. This requirement is interpreted to encompass credits earned in the calendar year 2018 and forward. Credits earned in 2017 or earlier may not be carried forward to be in compliance with the new rule.

Q:  I do not prescribe opioids at all. Does the CME requirement apply to me?

A:  Yes. All physicians holding an ACSC are subject to the new CME requirement. The CME can be in the areas of prescribing controlled substances generally and recognizing signs of abuse and misuse. Activities in specific areas such as the use of controlled substances in the treatment of ADD or mental disorders, for example, would meet the requirement. 

Q:  I am a physician assistant (or nurse practitioner) with a QACSC. Do I have to meet the new CME requirement in the Risk and Abuse Mitigation Strategies rule?

A:  No. As a QACSC holder, you have an existing CME requirement to which you must adhere [see Rules 540-X-12- .05(3) and 540-X-18-.05(2)].

Q:  I attended a multi-topic conference but only received one certificate for the entire conference. What should I keep as documentation of having earned two credits in controlled substances?

A:  Keep with your certificate a copy of the conference agenda that shows the controlled substances topic(s) and the time(s) those topics were covered.

Q:  If I receive my two credits in one year and they count toward the 25 credit requirement for license renewal, can I also apply those credits towards the 25-credit requirement for the following year?

A:  No.

Q: When does the two year period during which I am required to obtain two CME credits start?

A:  The two year period is determined by calendar year. If you received your ACSC in July 2019, for example, you have until Dec. 31, 2020 to obtain the two credits.

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