Calif. practitioners must submit drug reports online by Nov. 1

Some predict California's reporting requirement will spread

October 20, 2009 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Veterinarians, pharmacists, physicians, dentists and other prescribers in California have less than two weeks to get on board with the state’s upgraded prescription drug monitoring system.

Starting Nov. 1, the state will no longer accept mailed or faxed Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) reports. Now the data must be submitted via an online reporting application hosted by Infinite Solutions, Inc. (ISI), a company headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., which provides health information technology.

What does that mean for the state’s 7,000-plus practitioners? Veterinarians who prescribe controlled substances must register with ISI prior to submitting their prescription records via the online reporting application. The electronic system eliminates the need for faxed or mailed reporting forms, and provides veterinarians real-time access to a client's drug history before writing a prescription, officials say. Prescribers in California have been required to submit their controlled substance prescription data to the state on a weekly basis since last January. 

Law enforcement, health professionals and medical profession regulatory boards also have online access to CURES information, which tracks Schedule II to Schedule IV controlled substances as they relate to patients’ records. According to a news release, the online system is designed to prevent doctor shopping by prescription drug seekers, with Attorney General Edmund “Jerry” Brown Jr. pointing to the deaths of two celebrities — Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson — as the impetus for the action.

If a veterinarian receives a request for buprenorphine, for example, he or she can instantly pull up the client’s records and view the owner’s history of narcotics prescriptions. 

Pharmacist and Veterinary Information Network (VIN) consultant Doug Kemp believes that the CURES system will not remain unique to the Golden State.

"For those not in California, pay attention," Kemp writes in a VIN message board thread. "This will be coming to a state near and dear to you. While primarily a human side issue, the use of multiple subscribers and multiple pharmacies and buying on cash basis (i.e. not tracked and rejected by the insurance companies) puts a lot of drugs of abuse on the streets. It affects all of us.

"With some luck this reporting will be reduced to a computer feed that your system can automatically create and send. It's something that you should begin discussing with your software vendor NOW," he adds.

As with written CURES reports, each database submission should contain:

•    Patient’s/Client's name
•    Drug name
•    Quantity, strength and number of refills
•    Date prescription is filled
•    Prescribing doctor’s name and DEA number
•    Pharmacy name and license number
•    Prescription number

Valerie Fenstermaker, executive director of the California Veterinary Medical Association, explains that the system works no differently than what previously was in place, apart from the online setting. 

“It’s a transition, but it's easier, faster and now they (the state) get all of their data electronically,” Fenstermaker explains.

She adds that while CVMA and others knew that there would eventually be an online reporting requirement for CURES, news of the state’s deal with ISI only recently reached officials. Last week, CVMA included an article about the CURES changes in its Members’ Edge newsletter.

State officials blame the late notice to prescribers on the state’s competitive bidding process for contracting services, which yielded the deal between ISI and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) in June.

The DOJ’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement oversees the CURES program, which reportedly contains more than 100 million entries of controlled substance drugs that have been dispensed in California.

Veterinarians can reach CURES support at (916) 641-0500, (916) 679-5720 or via e-mail at . The CURES program can be reached at (916) 319-9062.

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