New legislation would help fight prescription drug abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem.

Three bills, which still need to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown, will help to prosecute doctors who prescribe pills recklessly. One bill, for example, will require coroners to report death by overdoses on prescription drugs to the medical board, who then can connect those to doctors.

It is disturbing that medications that are supposed to help people are actually causing harm and leading to abuse and death. Doctors should not carelessly write prescriptions, and dangerous drugs should be monitored. Often, a physician seeks to help a patient, but may be seduced into believing the medication is warranted. One approach is to be certain to perform a painstaking history and physical, write smaller quantity prescriptions, and require frequent return visits to the office in order to follow up and be satisfied the medication is truly sound and indicated. Unfortunately, some patients go doctor shopping and get the same prescription from more than one physician. In California, the California Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is designed to reduce diversion of drugs without sacrificing appropriate patient care and legitimate medical practice. The CURES program or Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System is a record keeping system that provides a patient’s controlled substance history information to pharmacists, law enforcement and State licensing Boards to help prevent prescription abuse.