Governor Brown Signs Groundbreaking CURES Database Legislation to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

September 27, 2016


SACRAMENTO, CA—Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 482 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to require all prescribers issuing schedule II, III, and IV drugs to consult California’s Controlled Substance Utilizations Review and Evaluation System (CURES) before prescribing. This will help prescribers make informed decisions about their patient’s care and limit the number of people who doctor shop and overuse prescriptions drugs.

"Overdoses claim tens of thousands of lives each year and more than half of those are attributed to abuse of opioid and prescription drugs," said Senator Lara. "With the governor's signature, we will help prevent doctor shopping and work to curtail untimely deaths caused by drug abuse. I've met families across California who lost their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and friends to the prescription drug abuse epidemic and it is truly heartbreaking. This law will play a critical role in curbing excess prescribing and keeping prescription drugs out of the hands of those who abuse them."

Forty nine states currently have prescription drug monitoring programs in place. In 1996, California enacted the first, what is today known as the CURES system, managed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The system tracks the prescription of the strongest pain killers on the market.

Current law requires all practitioners with licenses to dispense schedule II, III, and IV drugs, including doctors, nurses, optometrists, among others, to enroll in CURES by July 1, 2016. However, checking the CURES system continues to be voluntary and many prescribers do not check the database before prescribing. Other states that have required prescribers to check their drug monitoring systems have seen significantly improved public health outcomes. In 2012, Tennessee required prescribers to check the state’s prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing painkillers. Within one year, they saw a 36% drop in patients who were seeing multiple prescribers to obtain the same drugs.2 In Virginia, the number of doctor shoppers fell by 73% after use of the database became mandatory. In Oklahoma, which requires mandatory checks for methadone, overdoses fell about 21% in a single year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

"Opioid pain overdose deaths have increased by two-hundred percent since 2000," added Lara. "We can do more to help our residents struggling with prescription abuse and with this new law, we will."