Watching the Directives


The White House is trying to revive an Oregon bill that would establish a prescription-tracking database as a way of preventing illegal drug use. The chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services Committee shelved the legislation after pain experts warned that such monitoring would have a chilling effect on pain treatment. Critics of the bill are also concerned that the Drug Enforcement Administration could use the database to identify doctors who prescribe fatal doses of barbiturates or other drugs to patients who want to commit suicide under the state's Death With Dignity Act. The Justice Department has threatened such doctors with prosecution and loss of prescribing privileges; its authority to do so is at the center of a case the Supreme Court has agreed to hear. Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have reintroduced legislation that would encourage states to establish systems that keep track of all prescriptions.

[Thanks to Siobhan Reynolds of the Pain Relief Network for the tip.]