Officials Say They Lack Resources To Fully Use Prescription Database
California officials say that they lack the resources to use the state's prescription tracking database to identify physicians who might be overprescribing painkillers and other drugs, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (AP/U-T San Diego, 12/30/12).
About the Database
The database -- called the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES -- tracks patients' prescription drug history in an effort to curb illegal sales and misuse of prescription medication (California Healthline, 7/27/12).
The state Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement ran the CURES database until 2011, when Gov. Jerry Brown (D) eliminated the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. CURES now is operated by one full-time employee in the state attorney general's office.
State Not Making Full Use of Database
CDC recommends that states use their prescription tracking databases to identify physicians who might be prescribing drugs irresponsibly, but California does not use its database for this purpose, the Los Angeles Times reports
Nathan Barankin -- chief of staff for state Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) -- said that Harris wants to improve CURES so more physicians can identify patients who are misusing drugs and more prosecutors can pursue drug offenders.
However, Harris has not proposed using the database to identify signs of overprescribing.
Barankin said that state budget cuts have left CURES "on life support," so the state's options for using the database are limited. He acknowledged that CURES has the capacity to help identify doctors who are overprescribing but noted that the state DOJ lacks the resources to follow up on such cases.
Medical Board Asks Public To Help Identify Excessive Prescribing
The Medical Board of California, which licenses and oversees physicians, does not use CURES to identify physicians who might be overprescribing prescription drugs.
Linda Whitney -- executive director of the board -- said, "We don't have the resources" to track such information. The state attorney general's office does not allow the public to access the CURES database, according to the Times (Girion/Glover, Los Angeles Times, 12/30/12).
However, the Board has asked the public to help report cases of excessive prescribing. People who believe that a relative died from an overdose caused by overprescribing or physician misconduct should contact the Board, officials said.email subscription.