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March 29, 2016.
President Obama gives the keynote address at today's National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit (Atlanta, GA) where prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are being highlighted as essential tools to reduce prescription abuse.
A California bill aims to implement this prevention strategy by requiring physicians to check California's prescription drug database before prescribing opiates. California's database, known as CURES, is highlighted in summit materials as "the nation's most advanced PDMP," however just 35% of California providers and dispensers use it.
"California loses 4500 people a year to preventable drug overdose, more than any other state in the nation," commented Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog (http://www.consumerwatchdog.org). "The legislature can help stem this tide of abuse by requiring doctors to check the prescription database before recommending patients take the most dangerous and addictive drugs. It's clear that making use of the database voluntary does not work."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new prescribing guidelines that recommend physicians use prescription drug databases every time they prescribe an opioid. Last month, Obama proposed $1.2 billion in new federal funding to raise the ante in the fight against opioid abuse, including funds to expand the use of state prescription drug databases.
In January, the California Attorney General's office announced that a two-year $3.6 million upgrade to the CURES database was complete. Every health care provider licensed to prescribe or dispense medications must register to access the database by July 1, 2016.
Twenty-two states already mandate use of state prescription databases, and those that track results have seen reduced doctor-shopping, lower opioid prescription rates, and physician appreciation for the utility of the databases to inform prescribing.