California at Risk of Losing Narcotic Painkiller Monitoring System

In 2009, California Governor Jerry Brown announced a statewide database system designed to curb the illegal sale and distribution of prescription drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. More than 40 states now have similar systems in place, but according to a recent article in The New York Times, California's system seems destined to fail. The purpose of a drug monitoring database like CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) is to allow pharmacists to look up the prescription histories of customers and refuse to fill prescriptions for individuals who appear to be abusing drugs. The database can also be used by physicians to determine if a patient has visited other doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions. According to The New York Times, one of the fundamental problems with CURES is that enrollment in the system is optional. The Medical Board of California reports that there are more than 100,000 licensed doctors in the state, but only 8,000 physicians and pharmacists combined have enrolled in the system. Another challenge to CURES…

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