Physician Group in Favor of Provisions Dropped From New California Law

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

The American College of Physicians yesterday published a position paper in a medical journal that supports mandatory reporting of all prescription-drug dispensing -- a requirement that was stricken at the last minute from a California bill passed last legislative session.

Yesterday's article in the Annals of Internal Medicine said physicians and policymakers should stand shoulder-to-shoulder on a provision that would require physicians to report every time they prescribe certain controlled substances.

"ACP supports the establishment of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)," the position paper said. "Until such a program is implemented, ACP supports efforts to standardize state PDMPs through the federal National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program. Prescribers and dispensers should check PDMPs in their own and neighboring states (as permitted) prior to writing or filling prescriptions for medications containing controlled substances."

Earlier this year, the California Legislature passed SB 809 by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), which will upgrade and modernize the Controlled Substances Utilization Review and Evaluation program. CURES was  established in 2009 to help physicians and law enforcement officers see patterns of over-prescribing by physicians or drug-seeking behavior and drug-shopping by patients. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law, and it will go into effect Jan. 1.

But to win approval for the bill, DeSaulnier had to strike a provision requiring physicians to check CURES each time they prescribed a controlled substance.

That's the provision the ACP wants adopted. Consumer Watchdog, a not-for-profit public-interest advocacy group based in Santa Monica, is collecting signatures in the hope of putting the issue on the November 2014 ballot -- though the state ballot measure goes much further than the ACP recommendations.

The state ballot proposal would also require random drug testing of physicians and raise the limit on medical negligence damages.

"One in five Americans abuse prescription drugs and there is too little oversight of patients and overprescribing," said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, in a written statement. "This step by the nation's largest medical society recognizes that mandatory use of prescription drug databases before physicians prescribe will help identify 'doctor-shopping' patients and save lives."

ACP also called for passage of legislation to allow electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.

Lan Simpson
Is anyone out there listening? Thousands of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, etc. are practicing their professions while under the influence of and/or addicted to drugs or alcohol. The Dep't. of Consumer Affairs and the respective Boards overseeing these professionals seem to be incapable of controlling the situation to any significant degree. Since the article says "One in five Americans abuse Rx drugs..." (not to mention illegal drugs and alcohol), all members/employees/contractors of the DCA and healthcare professional Boards should have a random drug screen done on them. The findings of such tests may elucidate some of the reasons why they are unable to effectively manage the thousands of addicted healthcare professionals, thus endangering an unsuspecting public.
Lan Simpson
"One in five Americans abuse prescription drugs..." Perhaps more alarmingly, about 1 in 10 physicians, pharmacists and nurses abuse or are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The state Boards of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing are supposed to control this, but they are doing very little. They put some into their "recovery" programs, which do little to help the affected professionals, and sometimes those they force into their programs have never done anything wrong in their professional lives. Instead of focusing on inherently innocent professionals, they should get a random urine screen on every M.D., R.Ph. and RN/LVN in the state. Right now, they have a small percent of impaired professionals getting helpful treatment. The Boards are putting the public in jeopardy. And, the A.G.'s office should get a random urine drug screen on all members and employees of the Boards, since, as is noted above, 1 in 5 Americans abuse prescription drugs (not to mention illegal drugs and alcohol).

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