A federal judge in Portland has ruled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency needs a warrant before getting information from Oregon’s pharmaceutical-monitoring program.
Because of growing prescription drug addiction, pharmacies must now report to the state what drugs are dispensed to each patient, and the names of prescribing doctors.
In 2012, the DEA served the state with two subpoenas demanding the records of a patient and a summary of the drugs prescribed by two doctors. The state balked, sending the case to court.
Dave Fidanque of the ACLU of Oregon said it’s appropriate that law enforcement needs a warrant to find out what kinds of medications people are taking.
“The government shouldn’t be able to go snooping through that kind of information unless they have evidence of wrong-doing to begin with,” he said.
Judge Ancer Haggerty ruled that there’s no absolute right to privacy for prescription information, because medical staff need it. But he said, patients are right to expect law enforcement agencies won’t have unfettered access.
Calls to the U.S. Attorney’s office were not immediately returned.