What Every Physician Should Know About CURES

  • Poage, Jeffrey, MD
| Aug 10, 2015

Have you registered with CURES?  If not, you need to -- and soon.  All physicians with a DEA license have to sign up by January 1, 2016.  Read further for a step-by-step guide on how to register.

First, a little background.  CURES stands for Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System.   It is essentially California’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).  PDMPs are used in 49 states and are considered a crucial part in stemming prescription drug abuse by patients and the over-prescribing of pain medications.  

In most states, the Pharmacy Board oversees PDMPs.  In California, it is an agency within the Department of Justice.  In 1999 CURES replaced the California Triplicate Prescription Program, which had been in place since 1939.  Legislation in 2005 eliminated the triplicate requirement for Schedule II controlled medications.  CURES added the PDMP component as a searchable client-based resource in 2009.  And most recently in 2013, Senate Bill 809 (DeSaulnier and Steinberg) was signed into law by Governor Brown. This requires the following:    

A health care practitioner authorized to prescribe, order, administer, furnish, or dispense Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV controlled substances must before January 1, 2016, or upon receipt of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration, whichever occurs later, submit an application to the Department of Justice to be registered with the CURES Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).

To sum it up: CURES requires reporting of dispensed prescriptions, not in-hospital administration of controlled drugs.  This is a good thing for those of us in the OR suites.  Just imagine the anesthesia workflow issues if every patient having surgery required a CURES inquiry!   

Nonetheless, CURES is being upgraded to provide meaningful resources for physicians, prescribers and dispensers who have reason to submit an inquiry. The 2013 legislation increased funding of CURES. As part of this, the Medical Board of California now collects an additional six dollars per year on physician license applications and renewals.   The three million dollar upgrade promises the following enhancements:

  • Upgraded capability to allow real-time updates and 24/7 accessibility
  • Ability to integrate with health information systems
  • Accommodation of large increases in usage
  • Better collaboration between PDMP users (prescribers, dispensers, criminal justice system)
  • Interstate information sharing through the Prescription Monitoring Information Exchange (PMIX)
  • Improved analytics
  • Streamlined PDMP registration process
  • Advanced privacy and security standards

CURES 2.0 launched last month and requires Microsoft Internet Explorer v. 11.0 or higher, or current versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari. Earlier versions of Internet Explorer will not be supported.  This was reportedly an issue for many health systems including Kaiser, Sutter and Dignity Health.  A bigger issue may be the incompatibility of EHR’s with newer browsers.

Bill Gleeson, a spokesperson for Sutter, said, “Our intention is to make the necessary upgrades so that our providers can access the CURES database.” In the meantime, CURES 1.0 will run simultaneously with 2.0 through the end of the year.  

So here is my step-by-step primer on how to register for CURES: 

  1. Go to the CURES website and navigate to the registration page.  Do so by clicking on “New users register here” at the bottom of the page.

  2. Click on “Practitioner”.

  3. Fill out the online registration form.  (This took me about ten minutes.)  You must check the I CERTIFY/AGREE TO THE ABOVE box and then click “submit”.

  4. Print the “Confirmation Page” immediately because it will need to be notarized.  Do not sign and date the printed application until instructed to do so by an authorized notary.

    Of note, if you navigate away from the site without printing this page, you will have to call the CURES Help Desk at (916) 227-3843.  (This happened to me.)  They will email you your confirmation page with a sample notary form that you can print as well.

  5. After you complete the on-line application, you will receive an e-mail confirmation request.  This must be completed within 72 hours.  And be careful, as there are reports of DOJ CURES email going to junk mail.

  6. Have your printed application and all validating documents notarized.  These include:  A government-issued ID (most likely your California Drivers License), DEA Registration and a copy of your State Medical License.  (Note:  A copy of your DEA Registration Certification may be downloaded from the DEA website.)

  7. You may scan your application and supporting documents as a single PDF file and forward them to pmp@doj.ca.gov.

    Alternatively, you may send them in by mail to:

    Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigative Services
    Attn: PDMP Registration
    P.O. Box 160447
    Sacramento, CA 95816

  8. In 12 to 16 weeks, you should receive verification that you are now a registered prescriber in the California CURES Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.  Congratulations!

Any questions?  Call the CURES Help Desk at (916) 227-3843.  They now have three phone lines to handle calls.  One drawback:  There is no means of leaving a call back number.  You just have to keep trying.  CURES hopes they will be able to keep up with the demand as the January 1st deadline approaches for registration.  But for you, no worries. You now know what to do:  Go online and register!

Next up:  Why we need a reliable Prescription Data Monitoring Program

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