Governor Brown signs CURES bill

October 01, 2013

On Friday, Gov. Brown signed into law a bill that will provide funding for ongoing maintenance and staffing of the Controlled Substances and Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). CURES is an online database that allows authorized users, including physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement and regulatory boards, to access information about a patient’s controlled substance prescription history. The new law will provide roughly $1.5 million annually to maintain the database. The bill builds on funding provided through the 2013 budget to upgrade the system.

The mission of CURES is to prevent pharmaceuticals from falling into the wrong hands, while promoting legitimate medical practice and quality patient care. If prescribers and pharmacies have access to controlled substance history information at the point of care, it helps them identify and assist patients who may be abusing controlled substances, make appropriate prescribing decisions and cut down on prescription drug abuse in California.

The California Medical Association (CMA) changed its position on the bill (SB 809) from neutral to support after negotiating significant amendments that will make it easier for physicians and other prescribers and dispensers to access real time data. CMA secured a streamlined application process for CURES, a requirement that a stakeholders group be consulted as the upgrade and maintenance occurs and a reduced fee impact on physicians. Most importantly, there will be no mandated participation required of physicians. CMA also negotiated a clarification of the value of CURES as a clinical tool as opposed to being strictly a law enforcement tool.

The new bill language would also require the Department of Justice to establish a process for registered users to designate authorized delegates who could order patient activity reports on their behalf.

California has seen an increasing number of overdose deaths related to prescription drug abuse. Physicians understand that there are people who seek drugs directly from prescribers and look to CURES as a tool to help identify those cases.

Registered users can access CURES to verify a patient’s controlled substances history before prescribing and the information can be used to help identify a patient who may be “doctor shopping.” The system entrusts that well-informed prescribers and pharmacists can and will use their professional expertise to evaluate their patients’ care, prevent inappropriate use of drugs and assist those patients who may be abusing controlled substances.

Contact: Alecia Sanchez, (916) 551-2878 or asanchez@cmadocs.org.


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