Since 1999, the amount of prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the US has nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Overprescribing leads to more abuse and more overdose deaths.
In 2012, there were more than 41,000 deaths in this country related to drug overdoses – with more than 50 percent related to pharmaceuticals. Opioid analgesics, like oxycodone, methadone or hydrocodone, were involved in about 3 of every 4 pharmaceutical overdose deaths. The cost of health care related to abuse of opioid pain relievers is estimated at more than $70 billion. In California, reported deaths involving opioid prescription medications have increased 16.5 percent since 2006. In 2012, there were more than 1,800 deaths from all types of opioids – 72 percent involved prescription opioids.
Families Working to Fix California Prescription Drug Database to Help Addicts – NBC News San Diego [direct link]
Over the past decade, state regulators developed drug database called CURES that can help doctors and pharmacists identify drug-seeking patients, and to limit their access to potentially harmful and/or addictive prescription drugs.
In May 2015, the California State Senate approved legislation to require doctors to check a state prescription database before prescribing Schedule II and III drugs (like OxyContin and other opioid) to help prevent addiction and, potentially, many deaths.
In a bipartisan vote, 28 supported the bill while 11 opposed. The bill now goes to the state Assembly.
Nine other states require doctors to check their state’s prescription drug database, according to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University. 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.
We’ll keep you posted as this bill moves towards full approval in the state of California.
Sources and related links:
- California Senate Approves Legislation Requiring Physicians To Check State Database – PRNewsWire
- Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) – State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General
- Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the US – CDC.gov
- Families Working to Fix California Prescription Drug Database to Help Addicts – NBC News San Diego
- Injury Prevention & Control: Prescription Drug Overdose – CDC.gov
- State Workgroup Seeks to Curb Prescription-Drug Deaths – California Department of Public Health
- Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence – Brandeis University