California finalizes prescription drug monitoring regulations

California finalizes prescription drug monitoring regulations

Regulations surrounding the California Department of Justice’s prescription drug monitoring program will go into effect on July 1, California’s attorney general said Monday.

The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) program helps healthcare practitioners ensure that they are effectively prescribing and dispensing controlled substances. The program also allows law enforcement and regulatory agencies to better manage the abuse of controlled substances.

“At the California Department of Justice, it’s our job to safeguard the rights and interests of nearly forty million Californians,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “These regulations make commonsense protections for patient privacy a top priority while balancing the need for critical enforcement tools to protect public health and safety by combatting the abuse of controlled substances and aiding in public health interventions. We’re grateful to all the stakeholders and members of the public who contributed to the regulation process.”

The new regulations are part of Assembly Bill 1751, which went into effect on January 1, 2019. In that bill, the CA DOJ was required to adopt regulations that cover the processes, purposes, and conditions in which information from the CURES database could be accessed and used. Through consultations with stakeholders, the department proposed those regulations in October and opened them up for comment in November. After receiving the comments, the department issued a revised proposal for additional comments. The final revision based on that second round of comments is the final regulations and will go into effect on July 1.

The regulations outline the process for approving, denying and disapproving access to information in CURES; the purposes for which healthcare providers can access CURES information; the conditions that require a warrant, subpoena or court order for law enforcement to access information from CURES; and the process through which researchers, educators, statistical researchers and others can access CURES information.