Calif. AG announces plan to combat prescription drug abuse

SAN FRANCISCO California Attorney General Jerry Brown unveiled a plan Wednesday to provide doctors and pharmacists with almost instant Internet access to patient prescription drug histories to help prevent so-called doctor shopping and other abuses of pharmaceuticals, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brown said that the state's prescription monitoring is a “horse-and-buggy” system that needs significant improvements because it now can take healthcare professionals weeks to obtain information on drug use by patients. That delay can allow some patients to get large quantities of drugs from multiple doctors for personal use or sale.

“If California puts this on real-time access, it will give doctors and pharmacies the technology they need to fight prescription drug abuse, which is burdening our healthcare system,” Brown said.

The database, known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, contains 86 million entries for prescription drugs dispensed in California.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem, with the federal government reporting that 7 million Americans engaged in non-medical use of pharmaceuticals in 2006–up from 6 million two years earlier.

Using a secure, privately funded online database, Brown said, health professionals would be able to access drug histories of patients instead of mailing or faxing written requests for the information.

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