SB 809, which provides sustainable funding to save a crucial prescription drug abuse prevention program, was signed by Governor Brown today. SB 809 was authored by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and sponsored by Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. The bill was passed unanimously in both the Assembly and Senate.
SB 809 provides 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.
“SB 809 is an important step in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic, and I thank Governor Brown for signing it into law,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “This bill ensures sustainable funding for one of the Department of Justice’s most powerful tools in fighting prescription drug abuse. SB 809 prevents California going from first to worst when it comes to monitoring prescription narcotics. The funding for an upgraded CURES program is a small price to pay when so many lives are at stake.”
“The countless families who have struggled with prescription drug abuse are the reason I took up the fight to save the CURES program. I thank them for sharing their stories. In the coming years I am hopeful that we will continue to invest in prescription drug abuse prevention. We can save countless lives if we make a concerted effort to stop this epidemic.”
This bill will not only save lives, it will save millions of dollars as well. It is estimated that SB 809 will save around $52 million annually in workers compensation costs alone.
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.
In 2011, sales of painkillers in the United States reached $8.5 billion. Sales of the nation’s two most popular prescription painkillers, oxycodone and hydrocodone, have skyrocketed over the last decade. In California, between 2000 and 2010, the per capita sales of oxycodone increased 372% and the per capita sales of hydrocodone increased 123%.
Less than nine 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 requires all prescribers and pharmacists to enroll in CURES/PDMP by January 1, 2016. Resources are needed to upgrade the web-based CURES/PDMP system before all users can be accommodated.
SB 809 provides a stable funding to modernize and maintain CURES/PDMP. SB 809 takes a shared funding approach by imposing a small $6 licensing increase on practitioners and pharmacists, and authorizing the Department of Justice to seek grant funding from health insurance plans, workers compensation insurers, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
A broad coalition supported SB 809, including medical professionals, business groups, and law enforcement. The California Medical Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, and California Pharmacists Association all support SB 809.
“SB 809 had a broad coalition of supporters from medical professionals to law enforcement to victim’s advocates; I thank them all for their efforts,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “I especially want to thank two of my constituents, Bob Pack and April Rovero, for bringing to my attention the need to fund and modernize the CURES program. This bill is in the memory of Troy Pack, Alana Pack, and Joey Rovero—and the countless other sons and daughters who were lost too soon because of the prescription drug abuse epidemic.”
Website of Senator Mark DeSaulnier: http://www.sd07.senate.ca.gov/