DeSaulnier: Prescription Drug Abuse Bill Moves Ahead

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Mark DeSaulnier

Yesterday, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee passed SB 809, authored by Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and sponsored by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. SB 809 will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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.

“Today’s vote shows that there is real momentum to not only save, but strengthen, the CURES program,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “If we do not act now, California will lose one of its most powerful tools in fighting prescription drug abuse. 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. This must be a top priority for California.”

SB 809 is Senator DeSaulnier’s third bill attempting to save the CURES program. This bill has advanced further than any of his previous attempts.

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. Prescription drug overdoses now cause more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.

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

Less than 7 percent of those licensed to prescribe or dispense narcotics are registered users of the web-based CURES/PDMP system. 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, authorizing the Department of Justice to seek grant funding from health insurance plans and workers compensation insurers, and creating an annual fee on narcotic drug manufacturers who do business in California.

Website of Senator Mark DeSaulnier: http://www.sd07.senate.ca.gov/