California is one of 39 states that mandate physicians and other authorized prescribers check their statewide prescription and drug monitoring databases. In 2016, California passed SB 482, requiring physicians to check the Controlled Substances Utilization Review and Evaluation System — better known as CURES — before prescribing opioids and other controlled substances to a patient for the first time. The law also requires the authorized prescriber to check the CURES database at least once every four months while the drug remains part of the treatment.
The California Department of Justice maintains the CURES database and, under a provision of SB 482, required the department to certify the database before requiring prescribers to comply with its use. Since then, there has been a series of delays for certification including improving the system’s capacity, the hiring of more personnel to efficiently run the system, and the department’s requirement under AB 1751, enacted January 1, 2019, to adopt regulations by July 1, 2020 involving the access and use of information within CURES. This final step has now been completed.
After the department released proposed regulations in October 2019 for its database access and use, the department received comments from the public, including from two public hearings held in November 2019. It was followed by the department releasing revised regulations on January 16, 2020 while also seeking additional comments. On June 1, 2020, the department announced its final CURES regulations to become effective as of July 1, 2020.
Final regulations outline the process for approving, denying, and disapproving individuals or entities seeking access to information in CURES, with the purpose to:
- Assist healthcare practitioners, including pharmacists, in appropriate prescribing, ordering, administering, furnishing, and dispensing of controlled substances;
- Assist law enforcement and regulatory agencies in their efforts to control the diversions and consequent abuse of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances by outlining the conditions under which a warrant, subpoena, or court order is required for law enforcement agencies to obtain information from CURES as part of a criminal investigation; and
- Assist the access to CURES database information for statistical analysis, research, educational, and peer review functions.
For more details, view the CURES Regulation Fact Sheet:
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government & External Affairs Specialist. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to gvillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.