Bill to Save and Strengthen Prescription Drug Abuse Program Passes Committee


Mark DeSaulnier

The Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development passed SB 809, authored by Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and sponsored by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris passed through committee yesterday.

This legislation will provide the funding needed to not only save, but strengthen and modernize, the Department of Justice’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) program and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) that exists within CURES. CURES allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to quickly review controlled substance information and patient prescription history in an effort to identify and deter drug abuse and diversion.

“The prescription drug abuse epidemic has skyrocketed in the past decade,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “We have reached a point where prescription drug abuse overdoses kill more than heroin and cocaine combined. If we do not act now, California will lose one of its most powerful tools in fighting prescription drug abuse.”

“SB 809 allows us to not only save, but strengthen, the CURES program. This must be a top priority for California. The technology exists for us to make a real difference in the prescription drug epidemic, and too many lives have been lost for us not to take action. The price to pay is small when there are thousands of lives on the line.”

“This legislation will modernize and strengthen the program and provide doctors and law enforcement with a powerful tool to fight prescription drug abuse,” Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said. “CURES is about making government smarter and more efficient. Senate Bill 809 will help save lives.”

Prescription narcotic sales quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. With an increased prescribing of narcotics there has been a parallel increase in deaths, now four times what it was in 1999.

Currently funding sources are insufficient to operate and maintain CURES/PDMP and without identifying funds the program will be eliminated July 1, 2013.

There are 14,378 registered users of the web-based CURES/PDMP system. This represents only 6.76 percent of those licensed to prescribe or dispense narcotics. To ensure the program is effective, it is important all prescribers and dispensers enroll and consult the CURES PDMP.

SB 809 mandates that once the CURES/PDMP is capable of accommodating all prescribers and pharmacists, they must enroll and use the program. Resources are needed to upgrade the web-based CURES/PDMP system before all users can be accommodated.

SB 809 provides balanced, stable funding to modernize and maintain CURES/PDMP. SB 809 takes a shared funding approach by imposing a small 1.16% licensing increase on practitioners and pharmacists, a onetime assessment on health insurance plans and workers compensation insurers, and an annual fee on narcotic drug manufacturers who do business in California.

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