Arrest of Substance-Abusing “Pill Mill” Doctor Shows Need for Mandatory Use of Prescription Drug Database

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SANTA MONICA, CA: Bob Pack, who helped develop CURES, California’s prescription drug database, today called upon the California Medical Board to support mandatory checking of the database after a substance-abusing Los Angeles doctor was arrested last week on charges of narcotics trafficking.

If pharmacists were required to check the database, this “pill mill” doctor could have been caught much earlier. Pack also asked the Medical Board to begin checking CURES for improper prescribing by doctors under investigation or disciplined for substance abuse.

Read Bob Pack’s letter to the President of the California Medical Board here:

Read the Los Angeles Times article here:

“Other states have had enormous success in reducing illegal prescriptions when implementing mandatory use of their state prescription drug database,” wrote Bob Pack. “Medical Board support for the mandatory use of CURES will go a long way to help take drugs off the streets, protect patients and identify impaired or drug-dealing doctors.”

Pack helped initiate the development of the electronic version of California’s prescription drug database, also known as CURES, after his two children, Troy and Alana, were killed by an impaired driver who had doctor-shopped from several Kaiser physicians.

According to the grand jury indictment, Dr. Madhu Garg was involved in a drug trafficking ring that transported drugs and forged illegal prescriptions across state lines. A year ago, Dr. Garg had her medical license revoked for substance abuse.

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than ten thousand prescriptions, mostly for hydrocodone, were written by Dr. Garg over a 15 month period.

Pack wrote:

“In order to catch substance-abusing physicians and take drugs off the streets, I urge the Medical Board to: (1) support mandatory use of the CURES database by prescribers and pharmacists when prescribing or dispensing a Schedule II-III narcotic; (2) Change enforcement procedures to check CURES for prescriptions written by a doctor when the doctor is accused of abusing drugs or other substances; and (3) require periodic checking of CURES for any irregularities (such as inappropriate prescribing or overprescribing) in prescriptions written by doctors who have been previously disciplined for substance abuse.”

In the letter, Pack highlighted how current enforcement procedures failed to protect the public:

“Only 8% of prescribers are actually registered to use the system, leaving the vast majority of doctors with no way to determine if their patient needs drugs for medicinal or addictive reasons. The CURES database could have identified this known substance-abuser’s problem prescribing – nearly 10,000 prescriptions written in only 15 months, more than 80% of which were for hydrocodone, mostly at their maximum dosage.”

The letter continued:

“Dr. Garg is just the latest case of a substance-abusing physician who becomes involved with selling prescriptions and drugs, either in trade or for cash to feed their addiction. For example, while Dr. Richard Wallrath of Bakersfield was on probation for “gross negligence,” he prescribed himself drugs like Ambien, Norco, and Vicodin, taking some for personal use and selling the rest.”

Read Bob Pack’s original letter to the Medical Board about Dr. Wallrath:

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