A bill by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) to improve California’s fight against the prescription drug abuse epidemic passed the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development this week.
SB 1258 strengthens the Department of Justice’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). CURES allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to quickly review controlled substance information and patient prescription history in an effort to identify and deter drug abuse and diversion.
SB 1258 builds upon the groundwork laid out in SB 809 (DeSaulnier), signed by the Governor last year, to provide essential funding to upgrade the CURES Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. SB 1258 includes improvements to expand electronic prescribing of controlled substances to reduce prescription pad fraud, establish stronger dispensing limits, track schedule V controlled substances using the CURES database, and allow designated investigators at the Department of Consumer Affairs access to the CURES data for purposes of investigations.
“Expanding electronic prescribing is the next step in the fight against prescription drug abuse,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “SB 1258 improves our ability to prevent prescription drug abuse before it is too late. The provisions in SB 1258 create safer prescription practices and increase the prescription narcotics tracked by CURES to help save lives.”
Prescription narcotic sales quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. With an increased prescribing of narcotics there has been a parallel increase in deaths, now four times what it was in 1999. Prescription drug overdoses now cause more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
In 2011, sales of painkillers in the United States reached $8.5 billion, and nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs the United States more than $72.5 billion each year in direct health care costs. Sales of the nation’s two most popular prescription painkillers, oxycodone and hydrocodone, have skyrocketed over the last decade. In California, between 2000 and 2010, the per capita sales of oxycodone increased 372% and the per capita sales of hydrocodone increased 123%.
SB 1258 is now headed to the Senate Committee on Public Safety.