New Law Requires California Doctors to Consult Prescription Drug Database

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A bill requiring doctors to check the state’s narcotics database before they prescribe controlled substances for new patients was signed into law this week.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill Tuesday that would also require doctors to annually check the state database, called CURES, if the course of narcotic treatment continues for the patient.

CURES is the California’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System.

Supporters of the new law include two San Diegans who were featured in an NBC 7 Investigates story about prescription drug overdoses. They testified in April at the state Capitol on behalf of the legislation and were joined at that hearing by Clark Smith, M.D., a San Diego psychiatrist and addiction expert who also supports the mandatory use of the CURES database. 

Supporters of the bill also said the measure could help crack down on doctor shopping, when a patient obtains controlled substances from multiple providers without those providers knowing about the other prescriptions.

More than 1,000 Californians die every year from accidental or purposeful abuse of controlled substances. Those victims include Kristin Greene, a Lakeside resident who killed herself in November, 2013, with a toxic cocktail of painkillers and sedatives.

Documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates reveal that Kristin had obtained more than 60 prescriptions from nine medical professionals and several pharmacies in the five years before her death.

Kristin’s sister, Lisa Bond, said Kristin might still be alive if doctors were required to check CURES.

“I think if CURES were used on a regular basis, we would see tremendous progress in cutting back prescription drug dependence,” Smith told NBC 7 Investigates.

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