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Calif. AG Brown To Launch Online Technology To Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

LOS ANGELES, June 4, 2008--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a plan to create an online prescription drug database so that authorized doctors and pharmacies can stop drug dealers and addicts who collect dangerous narcotics from multiple doctors.

“Every year thousands of doctors try to check their patient’s prescription history information but California’s current database is difficult to access,” Attorney General Brown told a news conference. “If California puts this information online, with real-time access, it will give authorized doctors and pharmacies the technology they need to fight prescription drug abuse which is burdening our healthcare system.”

Brown is working with the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation--founded by Bob Pack whose 7 and 10 year-old children were killed by a driver under the influence of prescription drugs obtained from multiple doctors--to enhance California’s current prescription database by providing real-time Internet access for law enforcement and medical personnel.

Since 1940, the California Department of Justice has maintained a state database of dispensed prescription drugs with a high potential for misuse. Today, this prescription information is stored in the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System or CURES, which contains 86 million schedule II, III and IV prescriptions dispensed in California. Examples of drugs that are tracked in the state’s database include Morphine, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Codeine, amphetamine, and analogs of methadone and opium.

The attorney general currently receives more than 60,000 requests annually from authorized doctors and pharmacies for patient prescription history information. Such requests are currently processed within several days by fax or telephone which makes it difficult for doctors and pharmacists to quickly review a patient’s prescription history before dispensing another controlled drug.

California’s new online CURES system will make it much easier for authorized individuals to quickly review prescription information to help prevent “doctor shopping,” or gathering large quantities of prescription medications by visiting multiple doctors. The new online database, which the state is preparing to launch in 2009, is expected to cost $3.5 million over the next three years.

The new CURES program will give doctors and pharmacists the technology they need to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of controlled medications. Attorney General Brown said that if doctors and pharmacies have real-time access to prescription history information, it will help them make better prescribing decisions and cut down on prescription drug abuse in California.

“If doctors can easily check their own patients’ prescription history, it will reduce the number of people who are able to obtain large quantities of narcotics from many different physicians,” Brown said.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, there were 598,000 emergency room visits involving non-medical use of prescription or other pharmaceutical drugs in 2005. 55% of these visits involved multiple drugs.

In 2005, Senator Tom Torlakson and the Troy and Alana Pack Foundation authored Senate Bill 734 which authorized new tamper-resistant prescription pads and permitted online access to the CURES system, pending the acquisition of private funding. The Troy and Alana Pack Foundation is working with Kaiser Permanente, The California State Board of Pharmacy and the California Attorney General’s Office to develop the new database.

“As a pioneer in the development of online medical information, Kaiser Permanente is proud to have contributed to the feasibility study and development of the database,” said Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy Operations Professional Affairs Leader Steven W. Gray. “With the aid of this database, physicians and pharmacists will have valuable patient history information readily available to make the best and safest patient care decisions.”

Virginia Herold, executive officer of the California State Board of Pharmacy said: "The California State Board of Pharmacy has long been a strong supporter of the CURES system. This new system will reduce drug diversion from pharmacies--it is an important enhancement to patient care and law enforcement."

Kentucky was the first state to put all its prescription history information online for authorized doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement. California’s new database will be the largest online prescription drug database in the United States.

A Frequently Asked Questions document is attached. For more information on the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and California’s current prescription drug monitoring system visit: http://ag.ca.gov/bne/trips.php


Contact: Gareth Lacy (916) 324-5500

Posted: June 2008


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