Drug Monitoring Program

California PDMP – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The prescription drug addiction epidemic can perhaps be harnessed by programs like California’s PDMP.

The State of California has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which is overseen by the California State Department of Justice. This program is designed to assist in the control of prescription drug abuse. PDMP allows prescription drug prescribers (physicians and pharmacists) access to a State-wide database to see what kind of history a patient has in receiving prescription drugs. The information provided from C.U.R.E.S. provides insight into possible doctor shopping and prescription drug abuse in patients.

The database, known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (C.U.R.E.S.), consists of over 100 million records of controlled drugs dispensed in California. The C.U.R.E.S. database (as well as the entire PDMP) is covered by HIPAA privacy laws, meaning that when using the C.U.R.E.S/PDMP all sources most obey all disclosure and confidentiality requirements.

Technology Comes to the Aid of an Overburdened Healthcare SystemThe PDMP also has an online software program allowing users immediate access to medical history.   Registered users not only have access to the controlled substance data base, they have the capacity to electronically report the loss or theft of prescription forms, which has been steadily increasing along with prescription drug abuse. This online reporting must be done subsequent to reporting the event to the local law enforcement agency. The database includes all of the “Class C” or controlled prescription drugs such as:

  • Dilaudid
  • Darvocet
  • Tylenol with Codeine
  • Xanax

Physicians are Not Required to Use PDMPUnfortunately, a major drawback in the use of PDMP is the basic fact that not all physicians and pharmacists are required to check the database prior to administering a controlled substance to a patient. If the State of California would hold the prescribers responsible when a patient obtains multiple prescriptions, this voluntary registration would be more appealing to those in non-compliance.

The development of the PDMP is a major step forward for the State of California in the monitoring of prescription drug abuse. However, it does not go far enough. The registration in the program should be mandatory for all licensed practitioners and physicians in the State.   Registration is easy, and is also available to sources outside the State of California.

While it is admirable for vendors to register, the likelihood of this becoming national policy is remote. The Medical Boards do not cover the nation as a whole. In reality, until the medical community becomes a nationwide community, there will be minimal impetus to expand PDMP into a nationwide program.

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