California Poison Control System receives funding through June 2010

The University of California, San Francisco-operated California Poison Control System (CPCS), which had already sent layoff notices to its employees January 15, 2010, has secured funding to rescind the notices and continue to care for Californians, through June 2010, via its free and immediate 24 hour per day, 7 days per week advice and referral telephone action line. As a result, the System will be able to manage, for another 6 months since it began statewide operation in 1997, the more than 900 calls it receives each day about poisonings and toxic exposure. Calls come from the public, emergency personnel, and health care providers. Over half of these calls involve unintentional exposure to poisons by young children.

Leveraging a reduced California State General Fund allocation of $2.95 million, the System obtained federal matching funds through a state program. This federal match, which was awarded the week of December 7, 2009, was conditional to the receipt of the California State General Fund dollars.

"As next year's 2010-11 state budget process begins in California, it is imperative that the $2.95 million California State General Fund allocation be preserved in order to obtain the match funding and continue services to the state’s 39 million residents past June 2010," explains Stuart E. Heard, PharmD, FCSHP, executive director of the System. "On behalf of the System's specially trained pharmacists, nurses, physicians and poison information providers who manage the state's poison-related calls through our 800 number, sincere thanks to a long list of supporters, including thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations who wrote their legislators and the governor to urge them to continue this vital service." Heard estimates that the System saves at least $70 million per year in health care costs for California. These savings include more than 60,000 visits avoided to emergency departments and health care providers.

  • The CPCS is operated by the Department of Clinical Pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and is responsible to the
  • California Emergency Medical Services Authority. It is the largest single provider of poison control services in the United States.
  • All CPCS operating funds come from sources outside of the University with substantial in-kind support from UCSF and host institutions.
  • The System's Poison Action Line phone number is 1-800-222-1222. Language interpreters are always available.


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About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.