Texas DPS and physician narcotic licenses, 2011

In one of those things I don’t really get*, Texas requires a separate license from an unrestricted medical license to prescribe narcotics. As the price of this extra license has always seemed to be more ‘cover the cost’, nobody has seriously objected. It’s $25, in case you’re interested.

Since it’s a State license, it’s required if your job could even perceivably need to prescribe narcs in a hospital. (So, Radiologists and Pathologists are usually exempted). It’s never been an issue, as long as you don’t screw up.

Until now.

From the Austin American Statesman:

The Texas Medical Association sent an email to doctors Wednesday alerting them that DPS had a backlog of 3,000 doctors waiting for certification, and 4,500 more would join that group in August. The email indicated that DPS was trying to fix a new computer program that seemed to be causing the delay.

But no one seems to be fully certain of the cause. Several doctors’ groups said they were told that phone problems, an office move and a new computer program all were factors.

DPS did not respond to questions about what might have caused the backlog or comment on the physicians’ letter to Perry. Spokesman Tom Vinger wrote in an email that DPS has processed all but 534 of the 3,064 certificate applications received this month. The rest would be processed today , he said, adding that the 4,800 doctors whose credentials expire Aug. 31 are encouraged to get their applications in “as soon as possible.”

So, mine expires at the end of August, I sent my renewal in a month ago, and it’s still not renewed. (My check was readily cashed). Hopefully the quote is correct, the computer-glitches have been tamed, and all will soon be right with the world.


*I don’t get this license, really, except as a way to allow docs with narcotic prescribing problems, or other reasons to restrict their licenses, to keep practicing. Except, I don’t get that. We’re also required to have a DEA license for the exact same purpose, so this State license is duplicative. Lose your DEA? I seriously doubt you’ll be getting a State narcotic license. Why not have a Full Unrestricted Medical, a Full Restricted Medical (no narcs), and then any other restricted ones (retired, etc).

Yes, I’m a dreamer. I dream of one license that makes sense. (No, I don’t want a National Medical License, thank you very much).




  1. We are in the same boat. Two physicians I work with in Dallas sent in their DPS renewal about six weeks ago – checks have been cashed but no renewal has been processed by mail or on their website. It seems to me that they are just not thinking by making a large transition in the summer months with the normal high volume of applications/renewals to process. Most physicians apply for their DPS, DEA, and medical license in the summer months given the medical school academic calendar year and the July graduation/residency transitions. Something just isn’t right on this one.

  2. Kevin Nasky says:

    I was surprised to learn that Hawaii has a similar requirement. Basically, a state-level DEA. It’s a Certificate of Registration for Controlled Substances, issues through their Dept of Public Safety, “Narcotics Enforcement Division.” Is this a money making scheme for the state, or does this extra layer of bureaucratic nonsense help the state weed out pill-mill prescribers? Who knows. I know it cost me a nice chunk of change. Interestingly, this was entirely separate from my State of HI medical license.

  3. Glen in Odessa says:

    One of the reasons for the state drug license is that it can be revoked by administrative fiat, rather than action by courts or the Texas Medical Board. Being tied into the law enforcement system, it allows for more or less automatic suspension on arrest or conviction of a larger list of offenses.

    This does come with increased risk heavy handed action, but I’ve not heard of this being much of a problem.


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