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Pill Tax Would Fund Doctor Shopping Database

— A program that lets physicians track patients who are doctor shopping to get pain killers is a victim of state budget cuts. A California man is gathering signatures on a measure to fund the program by taxing pills.

Aired 11/28/11 on KPBS News.

A California man has come up with a novel way to fund a state database that tracks doctor shopping.

The ballot measure would impose a quarter-cent per pill tax on a wide variety of prescription drugs. It would add 7 cents to the cost of a bottle of 30 pills.

The money would fund a state database called CURES. The database contains records of millions of prescriptions for controlled substances. Physicians and pharmacists use it to check whether a person is doctor shopping for narcotics like Vicodin.

The man who's behind the signature gathering campaign lost two children when a driver high on pills ran them over. He'll need to collect more than 500,000 signatures by next April to get the measure on the ballot.

The Centers for Disease Control says nearly 15,000 Americans died from an overdose of prescription pain killers in 2008.

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