AG Brown to track doctors' prescriptions

Kathy Woods Sep. 16, 2009, 1:16pm

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline)-A new online database sought by California Attorney General Jerry Brown to monitor prescription drugs could create civil liability issues for some doctors.

The database -- known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) -- is part of Brown's effort to control the abuse of prescription drugs in California.

Under the new system a doctor, pharmacist or law enforcement have instant access to a person's controlled substance history.

The database will contain information such as: the name of the drug, date prescription was filled, quantity, strength and number of refills, pharmacy name and license number, doctor's name and DEA number and the prescription number.

The information could be used in criminal cases as well as in wrongful death lawsuits against medical professionals.

"The recent deaths of Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson have made clear to the whole world just how dangerous prescription drug abuse can be," Brown said in a statement. "My office is inaugurating a high-tech monitoring system that will enable doctors and law enforcement to identify and stop prescription-drug seekers from doctor-shopping and abusing prescription drugs."

In the past it could take several days to obtain the information that is now available instantly with CURES, the Democratic AG said.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20 to 30 percent of the state's drug abusers rely primarily on prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 48 million Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.

Brown's office has said that non-medical drug use accounts for about a half a million emergency visits in California.

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