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Bill Aims To Reduce Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths

A measure in the California legislature would require doctors to check a statewide drug-history database before prescribing narcotics.

Prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in California.

A bill in the state legislature, SB 482 (Lara), aims to reduce the problem.

It would require doctors to check a state database before prescribing schedule II and schedule III drugs to a patient for the first time. Drugs included in these categories include OxyContin, morphine and Vicodin.

The CURES database contains the prescription drug history of millions of California patients. Doctors can use CURES to find out if a patient is doctor shopping for narcotic painkillers or other addictive medications.

The California Medical Association complains the mandate would interfere with the practice of medicine. But Carmen Balber, executive director of the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog, disagrees.

“There is nothing in this bill that changes the rules for when or how a doctor prescribes,” Balber said.

California voters rejected a ballot measure last November that would have required doctors to use the CURES system.

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