Calling it critically important to public health and safety, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) today urged Governor Jerry Brown to save California's first-in-the-nation prescription drug monitoring program:
The Honorable Jerry Brown
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Brown:
As someone who clearly understands and supports the need to reduce non-essential government spending -- both at the federal and state levels -- I also believe we should dig in and fight for programs which are critically important to the health and safety of Americans. One such program is the Controlled Substance Review and Evaluation System (CURES), the oldest drug monitoring program in the nation. It works, and it's saving lives, too.
As you know, funding for this program is now in jeopardy, even though the CURES database has information on more than 100 million prescriptions and even though prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions across the United States. Today, more than 8,000 doctors and pharmacists take part in CURES statewide.
While 37 states now have prescription drug monitoring programs -- and 11 others are in the process of establishing their own -- California is the only state in jeopardy of not funding its program next year. I strongly urge you to take a look at Florida's recently launched database, known as E-FORCSE, as one way to keep CURES up and running. In a novel approach, E-FORCSE's $500,000-a-year budget is funded by federal and private grants and donations. And the results in its first few months in operation are nothing short of amazing. Through the end of November, an estimated 22 million prescription records had been uploaded to the data base -- with some two million of those coming in just two weeks!
Abuse of highly addictive narcotic pain killers, especially OxyContin, oxycodone and hydrocodone, is a big reason why prescription drug abuse is now the fastest growing drug problem in America, claiming more than 30,000 lives a year. This is absolutely the worst time to be considering shutting down CURES. Instead, I urge you to look at creative funding sources as a way to keep this invaluable, life-saving program operational next year. As co-chairman of the House Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse -- and as someone who has dealt with the agony of prescription abuse in my own family -- I believe fighting this rapidly-growing health care epidemic should be a top priority. I stand ready to assist you in any way possible.