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What You Need to Know about California's New Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

By Procopio Partner Richard D. Barton and Associates Rachael A. Harrington and Julian J.G. Lean


A new prescription drug monitoring program is going into effect that will impact many health care institutions and professionals. Effective October 2, 2018, as a result of the implementation of California Senate Bill 482, practitioners must, with limited exception, review the prescription history of their patients no more than 24 hours prior to prescribing a Schedule II, III, or IV drug for the first time and at least every four months thereafter.


Failure to comply with this new requirement may result in administrative sanctions imposed by the appropriate state professional licensing board, such as the California Medical Board. The current public sensitivity and regulatory environment with respect to opioid abuse and questionable prescription drug distribution practices requires that health care practitioners ensure they are familiar with the new prescription drug monitoring program and procedures prior to October 2, 2018.


As is well known, California adopted the CURES program establishing that pharmacies and clinics report the prescribing of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances to the California Department of Justice (CADOJ), which compiles the information and maintains a database of each individual patient prescription history.  In accordance with the requirements of Senate Bill 482, the CADOJ established an improved and updated CURES database commonly known as CURES 2.0.  While the database has been readily available for optional use and review by practitioners, the new law now mandates that practitioners undertake the review described above.


Senate Bill 482 is codified in amendments and additions to Section 11165, et. al. of the California Health and Safety Code, which can be found here.  The current schedule of Drugs prepared by the United States Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may be found here.


The requirements to consult the CURES database do not apply to veterinarians or pharmacists.  In addition, exceptions to the required review of a patient’s prescription history include: circumstances involving admission to specific facilities, emergency care, treatment for a surgical procedure, hospice care, delay of a prescription that would adversely impact the patient, or inaccessibility to or technological failure of the CURES database. Please be aware that if a practitioner is unable to consult the CURES database, a note regarding the failure to consult the databased should be maintained in the patient’s file. A full list of applicable exceptions may be found in the statutory language included in the link above.  Click here for more information regarding CURES 2.0.

  
Procopio’s Health Care Practice Group is chaired by Rick Barton. Its attorneys are prepared to answer questions regarding the new requirements under CURES 2.0 and assist clients in preparing for, and adapting to, these new requirements.

 


Richard D. Barton has represented healthcare providers and health systems for more than 30 years. Richard’s consulting and litigation practice focuses on health systems, hospitals, health associations, physician groups and individual healthcare providers. He is experienced in assisting provider organizations with their quality oversight compliance obligations and governance. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law for the University of San Diego School of Law teaching Health Law and Policy.


Rachael A. Harrington is an associate in Procopio’s Health Care Practice Group. She provides counsel to hospitals, medical staffs, and physician groups with a focus on policy review and development as well as medical staff credentialing and privileging actions and judicial review hearings.  In addition, Rachael provides legal advice to public agencies on a wide range of legal issues matters relating to board governance and operation, the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act.


Julian J.G. Lean is an associate in Procopio’s Health Care Practice Group. He provides legal counseling and representation in the healthcare field. Julian currently provides legal counsel to hospitals, medical staffs, and physician groups throughout California. This practice involves representing clients in judicial review hearings and civil lawsuits, providing guidance on regulatory matters, and drafting policies and agreements to facilitate compliance and organization.