Prescription Drug Records at Risk

My home state of Georgia may soon join those states that have enacted “Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs,” thereby making individual citizen’s prescription records subject to easier state and federal government snooping. Already nearly three dozen states have such programs in place, a primary reason for which is to receive federal grants.

In Georgia, the legislation is being pushed by Republicans, and the bill (HB 614) passed the state House by a wide margin earlier this month and awaits action in the Senate.

The prescription-drug monitoring program this legislation creates would result in a massive database of prescriptions for patients throughout Georgia, to be gathered and accessed without any basis to suspect the patient or the prescribing doctor of any wrongdoing. The prescription and over-the-counter drugs that would be required to be monitored and reported include all those contained on federal and state controlled substances schedules; including, for example, pain medications, sleeping aids, Ritalin, cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, and many others.

The database thus created would be maintained and administered by the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, whose head is appointed not elected. The information comprising the database would include patients’ names and addresses, dates of birth, and the name, strength and quantity of each covered prescription, and more.

The purpose of the legislation, although couched deceptively as necessary to “improve health care quality and effectiveness,” is obviously to make it easier for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to discover alleged “pill pushers” and prescription abusers without having to go through the normal — and constitutionally appropriate — process of obtaining subpoenas and warrants (in other words, without having to first develop at least some evidence that a person may be violating the law before invading their medical privacy). The fact that enactment of such a database would open federal grant coffers is, of course, an added incentive for Georgia and other states to undermine citizens’ privacy.

This program, which is being heavily supported by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, presents a very real danger to the privacy of a person’s most intimate information. Moreover, insofar as state and federal regulators already are able to secure access to such information if they have a legitimate need to do so, it is clear this privacy-invasive legislation is not necessary. However, in this age when fear drives the citizenry to surrender private information to the government of the types and quantities undreamed of just a few years ago, such concerns with privacy and constitutionality often fold in the face of fear-driven efforts by government officials at all levels.

16 comments Add your comment

Eric

March 27th, 2009
7:21 am

Thanks for reporting this, Mr. Barr. If the people can do anything to stop this, please let us know. I thought that is why we have representatives in the legislature, but I certainly don’t feel represented.

Caveman

March 27th, 2009
7:23 am

Anything that keep Rush on the straight and narrow is OK by me.

Davo

March 27th, 2009
9:41 am

This is a much better system than that antiquated Doctor, patient, pharmacist bond. Is there even such thing as private practice anymore?

steve

March 27th, 2009
11:24 am

look at KY! Look at other states that use CASTPER or PMP’s. Sure it helps however there is a Bill in Florida that does NOT put a patients name, home address and medical records on a WEBSITE! This system used only BioMetric’s like eye or finger print in place of personal patient information! Anything on the web is public! http://www.BioScriptRx.com is NOT a website and no patient information leave the doctor or pharmacy! EVER!

Jefferson

March 27th, 2009
2:43 pm

True freedom and privatcy is so scary to the weak, they do their best to ban it.

Brill

March 27th, 2009
3:56 pm

This stinks! Me no likey.

[...] Read more at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. [...]

[...] also like to point you to former Congressman Bob Barr’s post over at the AJC about HB 614. At some point today, the Georgia Senate will consider HB 614, the “Georgia Prescription [...]

H

April 26th, 2009
11:03 am

Did this scary thing pass?

[...] Many of you may remember HB 614 from this past session of the Georgia General Assembly (it was eventually defeated due to privacy concerns). It was similar in that it dealt with warrantless searches and seizures of very private information. [...]

DT

September 11th, 2009
12:19 pm

What ever happened to the federal protections about needing warrants issued based on cause in order to spy on Americans?

christy

March 3rd, 2010
5:36 am

CONTROL!!!! that is all the government wants, is to control everything! Do you honestly think that by monitoring pharmacy records that you will stop people from obtaining drugs or getting high? what a joke! meths is a man made drug that people are still successfully making without cold pills because records show arrests are still being made. Marijuana is the #1 drug in Ga. which people can grow inside their home if desperate enough. The fact is you cant regulate everything, i think we the people should be able to choose freely if we want to kill ourselves on whatever drug he or she chooses. Just because people are dying , hell people die everyday. what it boils down to is this; “just because one chooses to live his or her life without the use of drugs and or alcohol, doesn’t give them right to say or mandate it for those of us who choose to cushion the troubles and hardships of our lives by using drugs. Some couldn’t have possibly made it as long as they have without the use of some drug. Every path of life is chosen by the one traveling it, no man has the power to change that. In the same way some people are born with alcoholic parents or abusive parents, some of us prefer to ease the tensions of everyday struggle by taking a xanax or having a glass of wine. What the hell is wrong with you people? Why don’t you just put so many some odd people in charge of the rest who can do and make the others every choice and move like a game of chess. That is what this world is coming to “world order”. I personally don’t give a damn what my neighbor is doing as long as it doesn’t involve me so why the hell do any of you care so much as to support this billion dollar spending that is going to give our government that much more control over what little we have left?

blake

March 3rd, 2010
6:36 am

Dr.”s work very long and hard to earn the degree to practice medicine and it is our right as people to pick and choose the Dr that best suites our needs. How is it anyone else s business what we get, say or do with our Dr? It isn’t unless you give your vote of approval! Please keep Ga. out of the many states who have invaded the people of their states privacy by implementing the drug monitoring program.

[...] former Congressman and US Attorney Bob Barr noted, HB 614 was intended “to make it easier for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to discover [...]

Citizen4freedom

May 9th, 2010
3:33 pm

Did this bill pass? When will it go into effect if it did clear the house and senate? This is a violation of people’s right to privacy. I am tottally against this bill; not everyone is a criminal….. What a load of crap. More government control is not the answer! please email me if someone knows if and when this bill is going to go into effect?

GOPDAD

May 14th, 2010
10:24 pm

This bill is not to track meth or to spy on anyone. It is to stop the diversion of prescription drugs. How in the hell do you people think that oxycontin gets on the streets for children to buy? If you are doing nothing wrong with your meds you have nothing to worry about. I am a conservative republican and do NOT want the government telling me what to do. But, this is a matter of getting a hold of a very bad epidemic in our society. If we make no attempt to stop the diversion of these drugs then we may as well sell them in vending machines. This bill is life and death and anyone that has been involved with addiction personally or with a family member knows it.