California's prescription drug monitoring database might run out of funds by the end of the year, according to the state attorney general's office, California Watch reports (Jewett, California Watch, 7/27).
The state Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement operates the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES. The database tracks patients' prescription drug history in an effort to curb illegal sales and misuse of prescription medication.
CURES was established in 2009, and more than 8,000 physicians and pharmacists have signed up to use it. The database contains information on more than 100 million prescriptions for controlled substances (iHealthBeat, 2/15).
In addition, law enforcement officials use the system to track physicians who are suspected of dispensing too many addictive pain medications.
Cuts to Program
Throughout 2011 and 2012, the California DOJ has sustained a total of $70 million in budget cuts. As a result, the CURES staff has been limited to a small group of part-time workers.
Shum Preston -- spokesperson for state Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) -- said part-time staff members are working to register physicians so that they can access the database. However, he said that the staff no longer has the resources to answer general calls from pharmacies or perform daily technical support.
Lee Snook, a Sacramento physician, said that it is an especially difficult time to make cuts to the program considering the rising rates of addiction attributed to pain medications. Snook said, "We would not like to see [CURES] go away," adding, "In fact, we'd like to see it strengthened."
Preston said the attorney general's office is discussing potential sources of stable funding for the program with health care agencies, grant funders and federal authorities (California Watch, 7/27).