Legislature passes CURES bill

September 10, 2013

The California Assembly has unanimously passed a bill (SB 809) that will provide $9 million annually to upgrade and maintain 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 bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

The California Medical Association (CMA) changed its position on the bill from neutral to support after negotiating significant amendments to the bill that will make it easier for physicians and other prescribers and dispensers to access real time data. Among the amendments are requiring the DOJ to work with the Medical Board of California to establish a streamlined enrollment process for physicians and other authorized users; and requiring the DOJ to establish policies, procedures and regulations for “use, access, evaluation, management, implementation, operation, storage, disclosure and security” of the database. 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 DOJ to establish a process for registered users to designate an authorized delegate who could order patient activity reports on the user’s behalf.

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.

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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