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California Governor Signs Two Bills Designed to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills designed to fight prescription drug abuse. He vetoed a third bill that could have assisted the state’s medical board in identifying doctors whose patients died after taking drugs they prescribed, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a statement, Governor Brown said he vetoed the bill, which would have required coroners to report deaths involving prescription drugs to the medical board, because it created an “unfunded mandate for the state, potentially in the millions of dollars.” He added the two laws he did sign, along with “more vigorous efforts” by the medical board, “will help detect and prevent prescription drug abuse without further burdening taxpayers.”

The measures that passed will help officials track prescriptions for painkillers and other addictive narcotics. They will also allow for increased scrutiny of deaths that involve prescription drug abuse.

One of the bills requires coroners to report prescription overdose deaths to the Medical Board of California for review, while the other provides increased funding for the state’s prescription drug monitoring system. The state database includes information on prescriptions for commonly abused drugs, including the names of patients and the doctors who prescribe the drugs.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times conducted an investigation that concluded a small number of doctors are linked to a large percentage of prescription drug-related deaths in Southern California. The newspaper found that in almost half of the 3,733 deaths from prescription drugs in four Southern California counties, those who died had a doctor’s prescription for at least one drug that caused or contributed to the death. In many cases, deaths were caused by use of multiple drugs, sometimes prescribed by more than one doctor. In some cases, prescription drugs were mixed with alcohol or illicit drugs.

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