California Cuts Pill-Tracking Program

California Cuts Pill-Tracking Program

By Luke Walker 11/10/11

California's fiscal crisis axes a plan to monitor scrip histories and prevent doctor-shopping.

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The latest casualty of California’s fiscal crisis is the CURES program (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System): a way of tracking prescriptions to combat doctor shopping by narcotic-hungry addicts. The attorney general's office announced that CURES will be part of $70 million in Department of Justice cuts for this year and the next. Junkies will be glad to see the back of it; CURES made it harder to get a painkiller scrip. With California's prisons still freeing non-violent offenders to make savings, little deterrent now remains for doctor shoppers or the "accommodating" doctors themselves. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report estimates over 40 people die each day in the US in prescription drug-related ODs. Little data was compiled on CURE's success, but federal authorities considered the program "promising" and it specifically targeted painkiller abuse by monitoring patient scrip histories. The data was available to doctors and health care providers online, enabling closer scrutiny, with offenders red-flagged. California may be broke, but it's prime time for pill-poppers to go shopping.