CMA negotiates substantial change to CURES bill

August 09, 2013

The California Medical Association (CMA) has negotiated changes to a bill that fund and upgrade the Controlled Substances and Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) has changed its neutral position to support. CMA believes the proposed upgrades will make it easier for physicians and other prescribers and dispensers to access real-time data.

CURES, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) prescription drug monitoring program, allows authorized users, including physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement and regulatory boards to access information about a patient’s controlled substance prescription history.

After extensive work with the bill’s author, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (Walnut Creek), the bill (SB 809) now establishes a flat fee of $6 annually for all covered entities; it requires the DOJ to work with the Medical Board of California to establish a streamlined enrollment process for physicians and other authorized users; and includes additional language requiring the DOJ to establish policies, procedures and regulations for “use, access, evaluation, management, implementation, operation, storage, disclosure and security” of the database. It also clarifies the value of CURES as a clinical tool as opposed to being strictly a law enforcement tool.

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.

The new bill language would require DOJ to establish a process allowing 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 the 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.

Senate Bill 809 will be heard in the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday, August 13.

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


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