California doctors will be required to check a database of prescription narcotics before writing scripts for addictive drugs under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed Tuesday that aims to address the scourge of opioid abuse.
The measure attempts to crack down on a practice known as "doctor-shopping," in which addicts visit multiple providers to obtain prescriptions for addictive drugs. The action by the Democratic governor comes amid an intensifying national focus on the problems that stem from prescription and illegal opiates.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 165,000 people died nationwide from prescription opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2014.
California maintained records of narcotic prescription histories for years in an early paper version. The database has since been updated, but using it has been optional for physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners and others who write prescriptions.
For 20 years, the influential doctors' lobby thwarted efforts to mandate that California prescribers review patients' narcotic prescription histories, housed in the nation's first drug-monitoring program.