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California Lags Behind On Requiring Physicians To Check Database Before Prescribing Powerful, Addictive Medications As New Jersey Becomes Tenth State To Make It Mandatory

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Eddie Barrera

Santa Monica, CA – New Jersey has become the tenth state that requires physicians to check a state prescription database before prescribing the most addictive medications.

California’s prescription drug database is voluntary for prescribers.

Signed by Gov. Chris Christie, the New Jersey law requires doctors and prescribers to consult the database the first time they write a prescription for a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance, like oxycodone. They must also check the database quarterly for patients that continue receiving such medications.

“New Jersey is the latest state that has approved a common sense approach to fighting prescription drug addiction, saving lives and protecting families. California should be leading this effort, not lagging behind,” said Eddie Barrera, from Consumer Watchdog. “Prescription drug overdose kills thousands every year, but a simple check of a patient’s medical record can give doctors the information they need to intervene with those who are at risk or may be abusing medications.”

In California, SB 482, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, will require prescribers to check the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) before prescribing Schedule II and III drugs, like OxyContin and other opioids, for the first time to a patient, and annually if the course of narcotic treatment continues. The bill passed the state Senate and is now in the Assembly.

According to the New Jersey law, pharmacists must also consult the database before dispensing a Schedule II drug if there is reasonable belief that the patient is seeking it for any reason besides its intended uses. They also have to submit identifying information for any individual who picks up a prescription for a patient.

Prescription drug overdose is the nation’s leading cause of accidental death, killing more people than heroin, cocaine or even traffic accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other states that require use of a CURES-type database – New York, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia – have seen dramatic reductions in the number of doctor-shoppers and opiate prescriptions. Opiate painkiller prescriptions declined between 7 and 10 percent in these states, and “doctor-shopping” by addicts fell by as much as 75 percent.

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