Lawmakers Want State Medical Board To Mine CURES Data

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lawmakers Want State Medical Board To Mine CURES Data

At a Joint Oversight Hearing of the state Legislature on Monday, lawmakers said that the Medical Board of California should mine data from a statewide prescription drug database to identify physicians who overprescribe medications, the Los Angeles Times reports (Girion/Glover, Los Angeles Times, 3/11).

About the Database

The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System — or CURES — tracks patients’ prescription drug history in an effort to curb illegal sales and misuse of prescription medication.

Funding for the system has decreased in recent years because of state budget cuts. The current budget is $400,000 annually.

A Times investigation conducted last year found the state’s oversight of physicians who overprescribe mediations to be lacking (California Healthline, 3/4).

Details of Hearing

At the hearing, several lawmakers said that the medical board should actively search CURES data for overprescribing patterns, instead of responding only to complaints about physicians’ prescribing habits.

Assembly member Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) said, “We ought to be mining that database rather than waiting for complaints,” adding, “I don’t think that the complaint-driven system has produced the appropriate results” (Los Angeles Times, 3/11).

Sharon Levin — president of the Medical Board of California — said that the board lacks the “statutory authority” to act without receiving a substantive complaint (Small, “KPCC News,” KPCC, 3/11). Later, Levin clarified that the medical board does have the authority to mine the data but lacks adequate staffing resources to do so (Los Angeles Times, 3/11).

The board has one month to respond in writing to questions posed by lawmakers at the hearing (Detrow, “State of Health,” KQED, 3/11).