A DEA number is a number assigned to specific healthcare providers that allows them to prescribe medications, including controlled substances legally. It includes a series of numbers and letter which identifies the type of provider; for example, nurse practitioner, physician, dentist, etc.

A nurse practitioner is an advanced-practice registered nurse who, along with other skills, can prescribe medications. To obtain a DEA number, the NP must first be licensed in the state in which they practice. Once the license is active, the NP can apply online for a DEA number. Applicants must complete six different sections:

  • Section 1 includes personal information such as name, address, SSN, phone number, etc.
  • Section 2 requires the applicant to report the business activity and drug schedule information. For example, which medications the NP plans to prescribe. The NP must be cognizant of any state restrictions on which controlled medications they can prescribe (Schedule III, IV, etc.).
  • Section 3 requires licensure information
  • Section 4 requires the applicant to provide background information about controlled substances
  • Section 5 is the payment section. According to the DEA website, an NP can expect to pay $731 for a three-year period.
  • Section 6 is the confirmation section in which the applicant reviews/edits all entries and submits the application

Once the application is submitted, it can take four to six weeks to obtain a DEA number. It is crucial that nurse practitioners begin the application process as soon as possible to prevent delays in practice. For more information, the Department of Justice has a list of FAQs that can help nurse practitioners with any needs they may have.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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