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'Doctor shopping' targeted in new law signed by Gov. Brown to curb epidemic of opioid overdose deaths

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

Faced with a spike in opioid overdose deaths, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation requiring all prescribers to check a state database to see whether their patients have also received drugs from other physicians.

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said patients will be prevented from doctor shopping to get excessive numbers of painkiller pills if prescribers first must check the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, database.

"Overdoses claim tens of thousands of lives each year and more than half of those are attributed to abuse of opioid and prescription drugs," Lara said in a statement. "With the governor's signature, we will help prevent doctor shopping and work to curtail untimely deaths caused by drug abuse.”

Opioid overdose deaths have increased by 200% since 2000, according to state officials.

The new law requires physicians to check the database when providing Schedule II, III, and IV drugs.

California was the first of 49 states that currently have prescription drug monitoring programs, but a small percentage of physicians use the database here, according to Bob Pack, a leading advocate for the new law.

“Too many doctors for too long refused to use this lifesaving tool,” said Pack, who lost two children in 2003 when they were hit and killed by a driver under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol. 

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