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Letters: How to tackle painkiller abuse

August 17, 2013

Re "A closely guarded list," Aug. 11

It is unnecessary to require Purdue Pharma to disclose the names of California physicians who overprescribe the painkiller OxyContin, because the state already has that information.

As The Times has previously reported, every pharmacy in California is required to report to the state database known as CURES all controlled substance it dispenses as well as the identity of the prescribing physicians and the patients. Pharmacists and physicians are encouraged to access CURES. State regulatory agencies could also access CURES to assist them in weeding out the "candy doctors."

But, as The Times has also reported, state regulators have failed to access CURES, which would alert them to the overprescribing of controlled substances.

If the state were doing its job, Purdue Pharma would not be placed in the unenviable position of having to rat out its customers.

Herb Weinberg

Los Angeles

The writer is a lawyer specializing in pharmacy regulation.

As a pharmacist for more than 40 years, I know the problem of overprescription has no easy resolution.

Many times when we first meet a patient with an OxyContin prescription, the diagnosis is unknown. We obtain ID, according to guidelines, but we often feel compelled to do more.

Doctors are often slow to respond. If we see the same one writing these prescriptions, we cease filling, but this does not address the larger problem.

Pharmacists are key to alleviating this problem. We know which doctors are suspicious.

If the government would provide an easy, confidential way for us to report these doctors (say, a hot-line), they could be brought to the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration quickly.

Chuck Franklin

Huntington Beach


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