In response to the growing public health and safety crisis associated with prescription drug abuse, California lawmakers have introduced a series of legislative bills creating a set of rules and practices to help curb prescription drug abuse and increase controls over the prescribing process itself.
While California does not mandate that all controlled substances be prescribed electronically (e-prescribing), measures have been established to safeguard the system.
Currently, the California Department of Justice’s Security Printers Program regulates the third-party printing of prescription pads. Legislation passed in 2018 created a structure for the California DOJ’s Security Printers Program. AB 1753 by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Santa Clara) granted the DOJ the authority to regulate vetted vendors selected to manufacture prescription pads by adding new controls, including limiting the number of vendors the state approves for printing, and linking uniquely serialized pads with the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). These regulations intend to help combat fraudulent prescriptions and create stricter reporting controls by vendors as conventionally produced pads are very difficult to track by law enforcement.
Starting on January 1, 2021, all security prescription forms will be required to have a uniquely serialized number, a corresponding barcode, and other security features.
California-approved security printers have been issuing these prescription pads since the beginning of 2020. Beginning on January 1, 2021, except for limited emergency situations, pharmacists will be unable to fill a controlled substances prescription that is not on a compliant form.
Physicians who do not already have these prescription pads should place an order as soon as possible from a DOJ-approved security prescription printer to ensure they have compliant prescription pads before the January 1, 2021 effective date.
January 1, 2021 also marks the implementation date of a new law that requires pharmacists and prescribers who dispense controlled substances to report the dispensing of controlled substances to the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) within one working day after the medication is released to the patient or the patient’s representative. Previously, pharmacists and prescribers had seven days after dispensing. This law requires pharmacists and other prescribers to report the dispensing of Schedule V drugs, in addition to Schedules II, III, and IV.
For more information on CURES and prescription pad requirements, visit the Medical Board of California’s CURES web page at www.mbc.ca.gov/Licensees/Prescribing/Forms_Compliant.aspx
For California Department of Justice approved list of approved vendors, visit https://oag.ca.gov/security-printers/approved-list
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government and External Affairs Analyst. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to gvillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.