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May 14, 2013 > Prescription drug monitoring program upgrade

Prescription drug monitoring program upgrade

Submitted By the Office of the state Attorney General

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris praised the passage of a bill she is sponsoring to upgrade and expand California's prescription drug monitoring program as an important step in combating a serious public health and law enforcement issue. The bill passed out of the Senate Business and Professions Committee on a 7-2 vote on April 15, 2013.

The Department of Justice's Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) program and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) allow 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.

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

"SB 809 allows us to not only save, but strengthen, the CURES program," said Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) whose bill will require all prescribers and dispensers to enroll in and use the system. "This must be a top priority for California. The technology exists for us to make a real difference in the prescription drug epidemic; 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."

"Criminal street gangs use the sale of prescription drugs to fund their operations in the United States," said Chief Dan Drummond of the West Sacramento Police Department. "CURES is a multi-faceted tool that can be used for intervention, prevention, education and ultimately enforcement."

Harris has worked hard to save the CURES program, which had its funding slashed to almost nothing when the Department of Justice took a $71M budget cut two years ago. She formed a working group with interested parties to push for an improved prescription drug monitoring system.

SB 809 includes a small increase in the provider license fee of 1.16 percent to pay for the annual cost to operate the program and a one-time assessment on health care plans for the upgrade, which will modernize and improve the information gathering and sharing.

Additionally, an annual fee on narcotic drug manufacturers, who conduct business in California, will pay for two State of California Regional Investigative Prescription Teams. These teams will increase investigation into incidents of prescription drug abuse, pursue organized crime and provide oversight and auditing of prescription pad printers.

Current funding sources are insufficient to operate and maintain CURES. If another source of funding is not identified, the program will be eliminated on July 1, 2013.

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