CDA opposes drug database bill

CDA and a coalition of more than 600 organizations helped defeat Proposition 46 in last year’s election, but a piece of the ballot measure has reappeared in the form of a new bill.

CDA-opposed SB 482, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), revisits a provision included in Proposition 46 last year dealing with the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System  (CURES) online prescription drug database. The bill would require all prescribing providers to check a patient’s prescription history in the state’s CURES prescription drug database before prescribing a Schedule II or III substance for the first time. Voters overwhelmingly rejected a very similar proposal, along with the proposed quadrupling of the cap on noneconomic damages under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) in November. Proposition 46 was defeated by nearly a 34 percentage margin.

SB 482 passed in its first Policy Committee hearing in April after a variety of amendments, but CDA and several other organizations remain opposed.

The CURES database contains information on Schedule II through IV controlled substances dispensed in California with the goal of allowing prescribers and pharmacists to review a patient’s prescription history so they can identify and deter prescription drug abuse. CDA was an active participant in the stakeholder process for SB 809 (DeSaulnier, 2013) and the simultaneous budget action that provided funding to both maintain and substantially upgrade what has been a severely out-of-date CURES system. The CURES database has had major functionality issues that have made it extremely difficult for users to access patient prescription records in a timely manner and the state Department of Justice (DOJ), which oversees CURES, has not yet completed its upgrades.

“This legislation is premature and any new requirements involving the CURES system could have the unintended consequence of reducing patient’s access to timely and medically necessary pain medication,” said CDA President Walt Weber, DDS.

SB 482 would impose disciplinary action for vague and overly broad usage requirements. The legislation would force prescribers to prove their determination of a “legitimate need” for the prescription should their professional judgment be called into question. It also mandates usage of the CURES system unless for some reason it is not functional or the “Internet is not operational.”

“CDA fully supports the purpose of the CURES system to make controlled substance dispensing records available to prescribers to inform their decisions with regard to patients’ pain control, but is concerned that SB 482’s broad usage requirements go beyond the system’s intended use and may jeopardize patient care,” Weber said.

CDA will keep members informed on SB 482 as it makes its next steps through the Legislature in the CDA Update and on cda.org.

For more information on the CURES system, visit the DOJ’s website.

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