Public Health Leaders Call for Mandatory Use of Prescription Drug Databases to End Opioid Crisis

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Santa Monica, CA – California can lead in the fight against prescription drug abuse by joining a growing consensus of public health leaders who are urging mandatory use of prescription drug monitoring programs, Consumer Watchdog said today.  

On Monday, a group of experts, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, issued a report calling for mandatory use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), state databases of controlled substance prescriptions, to stem the prescription opioid epidemic, a crisis that kills an average of 44 people a day in the U.S.

“It’s time for California to embrace the mounting evidence and growing national support for requiring doctors to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing powerful and addictive medications and pass SB 482, by Sen. Ricardo Lara. Every day California delays is another day we are responsible for continuing this public health crisis,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

Every state but Missouri has a version of a PDMP, as do Washington, D.C., and Guam. But, according to this latest report, the databases are voluntary in many states and actual use varies – many prescribing providers are not aware of them – and their design varies from state to state. In addition to making databases mandatory, the report recommends making them more accessible to law enforcement when warranted.

SB 482 would require doctors to check California’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) before prescribing certain drugs, like OxyContin and other opioids, for the first time to a patient, and annually if the course of narcotic treatment continues.

Other states that require use of a CURES-type database have already seen dramatic reductions in prescription drug abuse. 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.

The Johns Hopkins report, titled “The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: An Evidence-Based Approach,” will be discussed at a forum hosted by the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative on Nov. 17, 2015 at the Bloomberg School.  The first hour, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., will be live-streamed from

Read the report here:

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