Consumer Watchdog Campaign: Ballot Initiative Addresses Study Finding Doctors Are Single Largest Supplier of Prescription Drugs to Chronic Abusers

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Santa Monica, CA — A California ballot initiative that has garnered more than 800,000 signatures from voters addresses a study published this week in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association that finds doctors are the biggest suppliers for chronic prescription drug abusers.

The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act requires that doctors check the states electronic CURES prescription drug database before prescribing narcotics, as a way to stem prescriptions dispensed to addicts. The California Medical Association stopped such a reform last year in the legislature.

“This study confirms that physician overprescribing is the principle source of drugs for chronic abusers and the Pack Safety Act deals with that problem head on,” said Bob Pack, proponent of the ballot measure.  “Doctors should have to make sure their patients are not addicts before prescribing them narcotics.”

Pack lost his two young children, 10-year-old Troy and 7-year-old Alana, when they were struck by a driver who was high on prescription pills recklessly prescribed by the state’s largest health care system, Kaiser Permanente. The driver fell asleep at the wheel and swerved off a road, killing not only Troy and Alana, but also the unborn twins Carmen Pack was carrying.  Pack developed the CURES database in response to the tragedy.  He also was limited in holding the doctors responsible by the 38 year-old cap on damages in the state.

The JAMA study echoes a 2012 Los Angeles Times investigation that showed drugs prescribed by doctors caused or contributed to nearly half of the prescription overdose deaths in Southern California in recent years. The study was highlighted by the Los Angeles Times here.

To address the “serious public health problem” of prescription drug abuse, American College of Physicians (ACP), the nation’s largest physician medical society argues that doctors should be required to check state prescription drug databases before prescribing controlled substances to patients. “ACP supports the establishment of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). …Prescribers and dispensers should check PDMPs in their own and neighboring states (as permitted) prior to writing or filling prescriptions for medications containing controlled substances,” wrote the American College of Physicians for the Annals of Internal medicine.

Read the position paper:

The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act also takes other steps for patient safety, including:

  • Require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors – just like pilots, police officers and bus drivers do.
  • Hold doctors accountable for negligence by adjusting the current limit on medical negligence damages to account for 38 years of inflation while maintaining the existing cap on attorneys’ fees.
  • Require physicians who witness adverse events and substance abuse by doctors to come forward and provides them legal immunity.

To learn more about the ballot measure, visit:

Jamie Court
Jamie Court
Consumer Watchdog's President and Chairman of the Board is an award-winning and nationally recognized consumer advocate. The author of three books, he has led dozens of campaigns to reform insurance companies, financial institutions, energy companies, political accountability and health care companies.

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