Attorney General Kamala Harris this week praised the passage of a bill she is sponsoring to upgrade and expand California’s prescription drug monitoring program as an important step in combating a serious public health and law enforcement issue.
The bill passed out of the Senate Business and Professions Committee on a 7 to 2 vote.
The Department of Justice’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) program and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) allow authorized prescribers and pharmacists to quickly review controlled substance information and patient prescription history in an effort to identify and deter drug abuse and diversion.
“This legislation will modernize and strengthen the program and provide doctors and law enforcement with a powerful tool to fight prescription drug abuse,” Harris said. “CURES is about making government smarter and more efficient. Senate Bill 809 will help save lives.”
Senate Bill 809 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) will require all prescribers and dispensers to enroll in and use the system.
“SB 809 allows us to not only save, but strengthen, the CURES program,” said Senator DeSaulnier. “This must be a top priority for California. The technology exists for us to make a real difference in the prescription drug epidemic, and too many lives have been lost for us not to take action. The price to pay is small when there are thousands of lives on the line.”
“Criminal street gangs use the sale of prescription drugs to fund their operations in the United States,” said Chief Dan Drummond of the West Sacramento Police Department. “CURES is a multi-faceted tool that can be used for intervention, prevention, education and ultimately enforcement.”
Harris has worked to save the CURES program, which had its funding slashed to almost nothing when the Department of Justice took a $71 million budget cut two years ago. She formed a working group with interested parties to push for an improved prescription drug monitoring system.
SB 809 includes a small increase in the provider license fee of 1.16 percent to pay for the annual cost to operate the program and a one-time assessment on health care plans for the upgrade, which will modernize and improve the information gathering and sharing.
Current funding sources are insufficient to operate and maintain CURES. If another source of funding is not identified, the program will be eliminated on July 1, 2013.