DEA Seeks Warrantless Access to Prescription Records

What are you hiding?


The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to access private prescription records of patients in Oregon without a warrant, despite a state law forbidding it from doing so. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate are challenging this practice in a new case that raises the question of whether the Fourth Amendment allows federal law enforcement agents to obtain confidential prescription records without a judge's prior approval. It should not.

Records of the prescription medications we take can reveal some of the most private and sensitive information about us. Knowing that a person self-administers prescription testosterone injections can reveal that he is a transgender man undergoing hormone replacement therapy. Knowing that someone takes Xanax, Valium, or other anti-anxiety medications can reveal a diagnosis of mental illness. If a person is on Marinol, a medication containing synthetic THC, she is likely fighting weight loss associated with AIDS. A prescription for a narcotic painkiller such as codeine or oxycodone might indicate a chronic or terminal illness. Ritalin and Adderall are associated with treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

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  1. Sounds like a good temporary measure until we’re on a single-payer system, at which point every government agency will be able to share our medical data.

    1. That’s absolutely incorrect. I’m from Canada and even with our single-payer system, there are very strict rules in place that prevent just that. The only access to medical records is between you and your doctor, except for “narcotics”, in which case, there’s a database accessible only to Health Canada. Likely no worse than similar systems in place where you are, but certainly private. Assuming you have insurance, your information is probably already being shared; single-payer has nothing to do with it. Also your state/federal government bureaucrazies are MUCH nosier than ours.

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