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Where are curbs on prescriptions?

August 03, 2007

Re "Reckless Rx in the desert?" July 29

How does a physician subscribing to "first do no harm" find himself or herself prescribing either drugs that are inherently harmful or drugs at hazardous levels? The answer is not complex. "Follow the money" is all one needs to do.

Tom Pula

Sunland

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I am not surprised at addicted doctors, greedy pharmacists or enabling administrators. That they will always be with us has led to the creation of oversight agencies, and I am bewildered at the lack of even a mention of them and at their seeming inaction in this case.

In 1996, the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement established the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System. This is a database of all Schedule II and III prescriptions in California, whom they are written by and whom they are written for. Patterns of abuse are supposedly evident when all prescription activity is examined. Why didn't this amount of prescription activity arouse anyone's suspicions? I would ask the same question of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA is the licensing authority for Schedule II and III narcotics and as such possesses substantial enforcement resources.

I would also ask the Medical Board of California how it is that a licensed physician can be cited for two DUIs and not trigger a board investigation. These agencies should have figured prominently in controlling the situation in Rancho Mirage. That they didn't is disturbing and bears an explanation from them.

Michael Cox MD

Santa Barbara

The writer is an anesthesiologist.

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