Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog today applauded a California Medical Board unanimous vote to support a bill requiring doctors to check a state prescription database before prescribing the most addictive medications – like OxyContin and other opioids – to help prevent prescription drug addiction and thousands of overdose deaths.
SB 482, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, will require prescribers to check the state’s prescription database known as CURES before prescribing Schedule II and III drugs for the first time to a patient, and annually if the course of narcotic treatment continues.
One mother, Jodi Barber, spoke at the board meeting about how her 19-year-old son, Jarrod, and three friends overdosed on prescription drugs in 2010. They all had the powerful narcotic Opana in their system, which Jarrod’s friends had obtained in 90-pill doses by prescription.
“Drugs such as Oxycontin, Opana, and Vicodin are increasingly being used and sold and often with deadly consequences,” Barber said. “Requiring doctors to use CURES is important because my son's death and the thousands of other young lives taken too soon were preventable. CURES will help deter the prescription drug dealers on the streets and prevent doctor shopping.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named prescription drug abuse a public health crisis and called for the use of prescription drug databases to tackle the crisis. Other states that require use of a CURES-type database – including New York, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia – have seen dramatic reductions in the number of doctor-shoppers and opiate prescriptions. Opiate painkiller prescriptions declined between 7 and 10 percent in these states, and “doctor-shopping” by addicts fell by as much as 75 percent.
“Requiring California’s doctors to look at a patient’s medical record before prescribing the most dangerous and addictive drugs is a common sense reform to prevent drug addiction and save lives,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.
In February, the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database 2015 Report to the 109th Tennessee General Assembly reported that: 41 percent of prescribers report that they are less likely to prescribe controlled substances after checking the database; 34 percent of prescribers are more likely to refer a patient for substance abuse treatment; and, 86 percent of prescribers report that the database is useful for decreasing doctor shopping.
SB 482 can also mean significant savings for the state and local governments by reducing health care costs. A 75 percent drop in doctor-shopping in California, as experienced in New York when use of its prescription drug database became mandatory, would reduce state and local spending on prescription drugs for Medi-Cal patients by up to $300 million a year.
In support of the bill:
California Association of Code Enforcement Officers
California Chamber of Commerce
California College and University Police Chiefs Association California Conference Board of the Amalgamated Transit Union California Conference of Machinists
California Correctional Supervisors Organization
California Narcotic Officers’ Association (Co-Sponsor)
California Teamsters Public Affairs Council
Center for Public Interest Law
Consumer Attorneys of California (Co-Sponsor)
Consumer Federation of California
Engineers and Scientists of California, IFPTE Local 20, AFL-CIO International
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Los Angeles Police Protective League
Professional and Technical Engineers, IFPTE Local 21, AFL-CIO Riverside Sheriffs Organization
Utility Workers Union of America