"We are one step closer to reversing the opioid overdose crisis that claims the lives of thousands of Californians every year. Reviewing a patient's prescription history gives doctors the information they need to safely prescribe opioids, manage dependence and prevent abuse. It is time all California doctors utilize this life-saving tool," said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 1,895 people died of opioid overdoses in 2013. Another 11,683 – 32 people for every day of the year – ended up in California emergency rooms for non-fatal overdoses and other opioid-related conditions.
Among the families testifying today was Bob Pack, of Danville, who lost his two young children, 7 year-old Alana and 10 year-old Troy, when they were run over by a driver high on drugs and alcohol. The driver had been recklessly prescribed narcotics by seven different doctors at the same hospital who didn't check her symptoms, or prescription history. Pack's advocacy spurred creation of the modern CURES prescription database.
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new prescribing guidelines that recommend physicians use prescription drug databases every time they prescribe an opioid.
Many states have enacted similar laws requiring physicians to periodically check prescription monitoring programs before prescribing opioids. According to the PMP Center of Excellence at Brandeis University, New York saw a 75% reduction in doctor shopping after the first year of use. Kentucky saw opioid prescriptions fall 8.5% in its first year. A Tennessee survey of physicians about use of its database found that: 41 percent report they are less likely to prescribe controlled substances after checking it; 34 percent report they are more likely to refer a patient for substance abuse treatment; and, 86 percent report that the database is useful for decreasing doctor shopping.
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.
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog