Bryan Cohen Apr. 17, 2013, 6:38pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris praised the passage Monday of a bill she is sponsoring to upgrade California's prescription drug monitoring program by a Senate committee.

Senate Bill 809 passed out of the Senate Business and Professions Committee with a 7-2 vote. The bill would make changes to the Department of Justice's Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System program and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. CURES and PDMP give authorized prescribers and pharmacists the ability to review controlled substance information and patient prescription history to identify and deter drug abuse.

"This legislation will modernize and strengthen the program and provide doctors and law enforcement with a powerful tool to fight prescription drug abuse," Harris said. "CURES is about making government smarter and more efficient. Senate Bill 809 will help save lives."

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), would require all prescribers and dispensers to enroll in and use the CURES program.

The CURES program had its funding slashed when the Department of Justice took a $71 million budget cut two years ago. The bill would include a small increase in the provider license fee of 1.16 percent to increase the program's budget and a one-time assessment on healthcare plans for the upgrade to modernize and improve the system's information gathering and sharing.

An annual fee for narcotic drug manufacturers in California would pay for two California Regional Investigative Prescription Teams to look into incidents of prescription drug abuse, provide oversight, pursue organized crime and audit prescription pad printers.

If additional funding is not secured for CURES, the program will be eliminated July 1.

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