By Cynthia Craft
Dozens of bereaved parents who lost children to opiate overdoses told state legislators Monday that the California Medical Board is failing to protect the public from "dirty doctors" who over-prescribe addictive drugs, especially to young adults.
The reports of a growing epidemic in California mirror nationwide statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which revealed new data recently showing the number of deaths due to pain medicine overdoses have increased for the 11th year in a row.
Testimony from California parents, each displaying a framed photograph of their lost loved one, came during a routine review of the California Medical Board in a Joint Oversight Hearing of the state Legislature. Every 10 years, the Legislature's business and professions committees in the Senate and Assembly must review the performance of the board and approve its continued existence.
Bradley V. DeHaven described himself as "one of the blessed ones" because his 27-year old son survived opiate addiction and has been in recovery for two-and-a-half years.
"This is not a Republican issue, or a Democratic issue," DeHaven, of Granite Bay, said during a rally outside the Capitol after giving his testimony. "It's shameful this is happening."
Much of the criticism of the state medical board centered around its refusal to increase physician fees by $9 a year in order to fund a program called CURES, which would monitor by computer the number of pain prescriptions doctors write.
Dr. Sharon Levine, the board president, testified that the medical board does all it can in order to protect the public. However, Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court pointed out to the legislators that Levine left the hearing room before the parents of deceased grown children testified.