Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Privacy Politics

DEA Argues Oregonians Have No Protected Privacy Interest In Prescription Records 455

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-see-you're-taking-terrorism-pills dept.
schwit1 writes "Like emails and documents stored in the cloud, your prescription medical records may have a tenuous right to privacy. In response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the privacy of certain medical records, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is arguing (ACLU response) that citizens whose medical records are handed over to a pharmacy — or any other third-party — have 'no expectation of privacy' for that information." Oregon mandates that pharmacies report information on people receiving certain drugs to a centralized database (ostensibly to "...help people work with their health care providers and pharmacists to know what medications are best for them."). State law does allow law enforcement to access the records, but only with a warrant. The DEA, however, thinks that, because the program is public, a citizen is knowingly disclosing that information to a third party thus losing all of their privacy rights (since you can always just opt out of receiving medical care) thanks to the Controlled Substances Act. The ACLU and medical professionals (PDF) don't think there's anything voluntary about receiving medical treatment, and that medical ethics override other concerns.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DEA Argues Oregonians Have No Protected Privacy Interest In Prescription Records

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:12AM (#44947743)

    You've lost sight of your own Constitution and what you stand for.

    Now you're a bunch of witless idiots cowering in the dark.

  • by SemperUbi (673908) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:22AM (#44947859)
    Seriously! We MD's and other hospital staff all have to get mandatory patient privacy and security training every year. Some people at the DEA need to do this too because they are WAY out of line.
  • by wilson_c (322811) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:27AM (#44947911)

    Why would the DEA waste their time and money on this? HIPAA thoroughly establishes prescription records as being contained within the scope of medical privacy.

  • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:29AM (#44947943) Journal
    The NSA investigates supreme court nominees and presidential candidates to "keep us safe." The IRS targets their "enemies" (ie, anyone who wants to eliminate or reduce the IRS). The DEA wants to root through all your prescriptions and medications? No chance that will ever be abused!
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:33AM (#44947987) Homepage

    The DEA jumped the shark a while back. If marijuana is a Schedule I drug (no accepted medical use, high probability of harm) and Marinol (concentrated, synthetic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) is a Schedule III (Like low dose hydrocodone - Vicodin) then something's pretty wacky.

    They have no interest in doing anything but increasing their fiefdom. Which is a shame. There is a complex interplay between useful and dangerous drugs and uncontrolled drug abuse is dangerous (witness the bath salts issue). But no one wants to work the with the DEA since administratively they're still mired in the Reefer Madness [wikipedia.org] mindset.

    The executive branch, ie. Obama, needs to slap on some testosterone patches (a Schedule III drug) and knock some upper level bureaucrats silly. There really is no possible law enforcement reason for this. If you are looking for the few doctors that really are the bad apples, the pill mill guys, then all you need to do is track the docs prescription volumes. Start looking at the folks, say two standard deviations from the mean. That should give you enough homework. You don't need to drill down to the individual patient level - that's not where the public health issue is.

  • by wizkid (13692) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:34AM (#44948001) Homepage

    You've lost sight of your own Constitution and what you stand for.

    The DEA lost sight of the oath they took a long time ago.

    Now you're a bunch of witless idiots cowering in the dark.

    Can't go along with that. I think corrupt morons is closer. Egotistical Assholes might also fit the bill.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:36AM (#44948023)

    So what? "The DEA gotta catch shady doctors" does not translate to "you have no expectation of medical privacy". Especially when there are federal laws laying out that we do, in fact, have the expectation of privacy. In fact, those laws require anyone touching our medical information to provide us with a statement saying "hey, this is going to be kept private".

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:37AM (#44948039) Journal

    there are lots of doctors writing prescriptions which are then resold on the street. the doctors are in on the scam since they cannot possibly see all these patients.

    the DEA is just trying to catch shady doctors

    And this is relevant to the DEA's desire to see my medical records why exactly?

    Sure, I'm so worried that some pillhead will be buying opiates or amphetamines of standardized purity and potency produced by (somewhat) law-abiding companies according to FDA industrial heigine standards, rather than getting the good shit from biker gangs or mexican cartels or whatever that I'm willing to let the DEA have a rummage through my medical records (which are, of course, totally impossible to infer with nontrivial accuracy from my prescription history).

    (As it is, why don't we cut the criminal distribution networks off at the knees by referring addicts straight to the higher-quality product, and accompanying opportunity for medical care and cessation assistance, provided by medical-grade drugs?)

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:38AM (#44948051) Homepage Journal
    Because they're a government agency and government agencies waste time and money. The DEA in particular has been nothing but a waste of time and money since its inception, the functional equivalent of pouring gasoline on trillions of taxpayer dollars and burning them. Formed on the pretext that marijuana is "bad" for you with no studies done on the subject, their sole purpose has been to perpetuate the myth that their existence makes the country a better place. All it has, in fact, brought is is a slow erosion of the Constitution, the indentured servitude of a generation of young, mostly-black youth and a no apparent impact on the drug use in the country. If they were disbanded today, no one would notice a thing. They know they need to keep distracting us and flailing their arms about anything they can come up with, so that lawmakers under the influence of hysteria increase their budget next year.

    Ask a silly question...

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@noSPAM.carpanet.net> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:41AM (#44948089) Homepage

    I don't particularly care what they are trying to do. Perhaps those "shady doctors", as you put it, are doing what doctors who prescribed alcohol during prohibition did: Realizing that arrest and jail is more harmful to the health of their patient than the drugs.

    However, in any case, it doesn't matter what they are trying to do....ends do not justify means. Maybe I am "just trying to catch child pronographers" so I break into your house and inspect every file on your computer. Sure its wrong but hey, I am trying to catch child pornographers, so you should be happy I violated your privacy. As long as the intention is good, all is good in your mind right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:42AM (#44948121)

    I think if DEA were serious about their oath it would have dissolved long time ago.

    I think if DEA were serious about use of common sense at daily work they would have dissolved long time ago.

  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:43AM (#44948137)
    IANAL, but HIPAA is very very clear on this. The information, even if turned over to a third party, needs to continue to be treated as HIPAA information. Since pharmacies are under HIPAA jurisdiction, either the Oregonian DB is HIPAA certified, or they're in violation of HIPAA. There is no leeway in the law. If, at any point, you have HIPAA information and fail to treat it as such, you will be fined, etc.
  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:44AM (#44948143) Homepage

    I would rather have thousands of junkies getting clean safe prescription drugs to feed their habit than have even one person condemned to a life of agony because the DEA makes doctors scared to prescribe pain meds.

    The DEA needs to stop practicing medicine without a license.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:49AM (#44948227)

    In the IRS's defense ... A) they are NOT that bad. Contrary to the stories your grandpa told you about how evil they were. I've never seen an example of the IRS going after anyone who didn't deserve it or wasn't just a random audit (I was randomly selected for audit, which was awesome as I netted about $5500 out of the deal in the end) B) most of the people who want to reduce or eliminate the IRS are evading taxes, which is they feel is justified and is part of their reduce or eliminate the IRS kick.

    You're just being ridiculous at this point by dragging the IRS in.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:54AM (#44948311)

    Repeat after me "the federal government does not have general police power". "The federal government does not have general police power".
    See United States v. Dewitt, Employers' Liability Cases, Keller and the 10th amendment, which reads:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    "Find scam doctors" is not one of those delegated powers, which are listed in article 1, section 8.

    This part of the filing on page was interesting:
    The DEA is not required to obtain a court order based on probable cause to issue a subpoena or to have it enforced.

    Fourth amendment, anyone?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @10:58AM (#44948353)

    Don't worry, your team will be back in the White House after 2016 (or later, if they turn their primary into another circular firing squad, but certainly they'll get back there eventually) and then you can go back to not caring about the exact same behavior because your guy is in charge.

    This is a trend that has been going on more-or-less continuously since the J. Edgar Hoover administration and will continue to go on long after you die of old age.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:01AM (#44948393)
    No, moron, we're not all supportive of the DEA. The tide is rapidly turning against the drug war (rapid compared to how long it's been going on, not rapid compared to "hey, how about we legalize drugs right now, all opposed? You're idiots and don't get to vote"). And it's not the arguments that they publicly make that I'm concerned about. That's just PR. They can argue "Xenu wants information on your medical history to be free!" for all I care.

    Furthermore, this probably isn't related to our paranoia. Oregon has legalized medical marijuana. I'm going to assume this isn't about fighting terrorism so much as it is relating to the government wanting to know who is taking medical marijuana so they can make more arrests and send more "criminals" to perform slave labor for their campaign donors in the private prison industry.

    That said, thank you for the reminder that I need to donate again to the EFF and ACLU.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:04AM (#44948431) Homepage Journal

    " Obama has proven himself to be even worse than Bush"
    sigh, no he hasn't been.

    Now I'm going to say the same thing I have said about every president during the last 30 years: They aren't Omnipotent. They do not know what everyone under them is doing, and they aren't really hands on running each agency beneath them.
    No that doesn't absolve them from their actions, it's jut a reminder that people do things of their own will and not everyone in the federal government emails the president asking them for permission for everything they do.

    Now, abut this article.
    The DEA's primary arguments seem to be:
    1) Prescription aren't private, based on a ruling by the supreme court:

    "mportantly, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no constitutional right of
    privacy to prescription information. Whalen, 429 U.S. at 603-05. The Ninth Circuit
    recently summarized the holding in Whalen when it stated: “The holding in Whalen was
    that the New York law did not violate any constitutional rights of the patient whose
    prescriptions were revealed to the government.” Seaton, 610 F.3d at 537.
    Case 3:12-cv-02023-HA Document 43 Filed 08/20/13 Page 27 of 31 Page ID#: 741"

    What that specific case ment bt prescription information, I haven't a clue. COuld have simply been the amount of prescritons, could ahv ebeen everytihg, could have been under a specific set of circumstances not mentioned.
    However, based on the information I do have, it seems the DEA doesn't need a warrant.

    The other primary point, to me, is:
    2) Probably cause. Which has held up fine.

    I suspect people like you love this becasue if Obama steped in and told the DEA not to do this, you would be pounding out some feeble opinion that Obama is bad for not letting the DEA enforce laws, or if he says nothing you can say look at what he is doing.

    And before you attempt to pound some sort of response:
    I do not agree with the DEA, I think this is wrong.
    I think it's ludicrous the Marijuana is rated at the Class it is.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:07AM (#44948461) Homepage Journal

    Judging from the AC post below, I think you have your answer: deflect, deflect, deflect.

    Nevermind the fact that Obama lied to the nation, repeatedly, about the extent of NSA spying.

    Nevermind the fact he's still, still pushing for a war with Syria, despite the opposition of pretty much every single American citizen.

    Nevermind the fact that Obama claimed to want the "most transparent adminstration in history," he's prosecuted more whistleblowers than even Bush did.

    Obama makes Bush look like a regular champion of civil liberties.

  • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:22AM (#44948655) Homepage

    To answer your question (though I suspect you know the answer already) an amendment was required to prohibit alcohol because the constitution gives the feds no power to do such a thing. And the only reason it didnt require a constitutional amendment to outlaw cannabis and cocaine and opium is simply racism - our ancestors were willing to let the government expand its power unconstitutionally in this way after being re-assured this would only be used to outlaw drugs that "others" used. Cannabis was primarily used by chicanos, cocaine by blacks, opium by chinese immigrants.

    That racism is something we are paying the price for still today.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@noSPAM.carpanet.net> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:31AM (#44948775) Homepage

    I do not agree with the DEA, I think this is wrong.
    I think it's ludicrous the Marijuana is rated at the Class it is.

    I think its ludicrous that there are classes, defined by a bunch of stuffy old politicians, few of whom have any medical credentials.

    Simple fact is, marijuana use is drug use. Period. There are more pot users than the next 3 major illicit drugs COMBINED. You take pot out of the mix and it is hard to justify any of this crap.

    Even worst is the drug related crime, an entire class of petty crimes that happen really, for no other reason, than the artificially inflated price of drugs. Just look at portugal or the swiss heroin study. Criminality amongst drug users is clearly driven not by drug use but by drug high prices.... prices which prohibitionist tactics aim to raise.

    Just look at alcohol problems today, and tell me that they are real problems when compared to the alcohol problems during prohibition. When was the last time some people were executed by a street gang over alcohol distribution? When was the last rash of people blinded by methanol added to bootleg liquor?

    Its not just bad scheduling of marijiuana, its the very idea that the government should regulate what people can choose freely to put into their own bodies that was wrong.

  • by coinreturn (617535) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:33AM (#44948795)
    Although it took one, it can be argued that it may not have required a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. The constitution sets up a framework for passing laws, which can be used to outlaw substances. Absent a constitutional challenge to a law, the law remains.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:35AM (#44948825) Journal

    Now I'm going to say the same thing I have said about every president during the last 30 years: They aren't Omnipotent. They do not know what everyone under them is doing, and they aren't really hands on running each agency beneath them.

    If *I* know about it, what's the President's excuse for not knowing about it? When he finds out about these issues, what's his excuse for not firing the head of the agency? Why is Eric Holder still AG, when he violated Obama's promise to respect state laws on medical marijuana? Why is James Clapper still DNI, when he lied to Congress? For that matter, has Obama disciplined ANYONE underneath him for well established abuses of power?

    Obama doesn't give a shit about us, our rights, or America. All he cares about are his cronies.

  • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @11:43AM (#44948905) Homepage
    Because the court system have an extremely poor record when it comes to striking down unconstitutional laws that are politically popular. Unfortunately the courts just cannot be counted on to lead on these issues. They wont be willing to stand up for justice until it becomes unnecessary for them to do so (because the politics will have swung far enough to legalise - we are very nearly there already.)
  • by careysub (976506) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:10PM (#44949167)

    A parallel between the East German Stasi and the DEA comes to mind. Both felt you had no right to privacy, and that they had unlimited surveillance and enforcement powers. And the mission-statement for both organizations seemed to be to perpetuate their own power. as an end in itself.

  • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:12PM (#44949199) Homepage

    I would rather have thousands of junkies getting clean safe prescription drugs to feed their habit than have even one person condemned to a life of agony because the DEA makes doctors scared to prescribe pain meds.

    The DEA needs to stop practicing medicine without a license.

    Ding ding ding. Let me comment again about the two hours I had to wait in the emergency room for pain meds for IBS because standard practice is to make the patient wait to weed out the morphine addicts. That's right, all across the country people are waiting in emergency rooms in crippling pain because morphine addicts can't get their fix.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:27PM (#44949387) Journal

    Now you're a bunch of witless idiots cowering in the dark.

    Can't go along with that. I think corrupt morons is closer. Egotistical Assholes might also fit the bill.

    How about vicious and cruel thugs? Dangerous madmen? Sick, twisted fucks? Reprehensible monsters?

    I don't think there's invective too severe for the DEA. They'd rather see ill people waste away to their deaths in prison than get comfort from a medication they disapprove of. That's just plain evil.

  • by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @12:35PM (#44949515)
    Marijuana has a long history of causing psychosis in authoritarians that don't use it. Unlike many psychoactive drugs, this one doesn't mess up the user's mind, but does mess up the minds of fearful people who have never tried it.
  • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:02PM (#44949855)

    I guess HIPAA just doesn't fucking matter. I work with medical records daily. If I fuck up I'm liable for $10k per incident. Fuck these guys.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:23PM (#44950113) Journal

    The great lesson of Wickard is that the Supreme Court is a pack of government shysters whose purpose is to invent excuses for even the most blatant usurpations of powers that were never granted to the federal government. This is why the only viable means to enforce the constitution is nullification of unconstitutional acts of congress.

    -jcr

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@noSPAM.carpanet.net> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:42PM (#44950377) Homepage

    Oh I disagree entirely, I see no evidence that government involvement actually helps. Drug abuse is, at its worst, a medical problem. Prohibition does jack shit to address the real issues. In fact, what it really does is create these drugs.

    Yes create them. Over and over we see prohibitionists setting their sights on whatever happnes to be popular at the moment, disrupting the market, and then something else crops up. Prohibition encourages increasing potency, encourages ignoring safety protocols and releasing untested and unsafe drugs onto the street.

    Many of these drugs would never have gained any serious popularity at all if not for prohibitionists creating the market for them.

    And beyond all that.... my body my choice. Fuck you for even having an opinion about what I, or anyone else, might or might choose to use.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:49PM (#44950495) Journal

    Yes, the DEA enforces more than just marijuana laws.

    They enforce laws against opiates. This jacks up the price, and driving addicts to commit crimes to get a fix. This also decreases the quality and consistancy of the supply, killing people.

    They enforce laws against cocaine, turning people towards more easily obtained, yet far more harmful stimulants like meth.

    The enforce laws against psychedelics, depriving most of the country from one of the most awe inspiring, and still incredibly safe experiences life has to offer.

    And to top it all off, they drive these industries underground, enriching violent cartels at great human cost.

    The DEA serves no desirable purpose whatsoever. I challenge anyone to put forth a single well meaning, well informed argument for prohibition of any drug.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:37PM (#44951859) Journal

    I disagree. Marijuana prohibition, for example, is being nullified by more states all the time.

    -jcr

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:43PM (#44954651) Journal

    Oh, I'm quite sure they exist. Just as people who believe that throwing acid in a young girl's face is preferable to educating that girl. There's really no difference between the two.

    Hyperbole is a terrible argumentative tool

    That is not hyperbole in the least. They are both examples of the exact same thought process in different contexts. Both are wanton cruelty justified by a twisted sense of morality. In both cases, the agressor believes that he is doing the right thing while harming individuals and his community.

    If I'm wrong, what exactly is the difference?

    They enforce laws against opiates. This jacks up the price, and driving addicts to commit crimes to get a fix. This also decreases the quality and consistancy of the supply, killing people.

    "They don't have to do the drugs. An increased cost, and more danger would tell me that I should probably stop doing opiates. Addiction is no excuse for breaking the law. Also, saying that addicts HAVE to break the law to provide for their addiction is really only half of the argument. They have another option: getting clean."

    This fails the "well meaning" test. Whether or not they have to use drugs, or can get clean is irrelevant. What matters is what policy yields the best public health outcomes. Prohibition has absolutely failed on this measure. It has no effect on rates of addiction, and makes addiction far more dangerous. Continuing prohibition in light of this fact is simply being cruel because "those people deserve it".

    Also, consider that an islamist could use the same argument. "She didn't have to get an education/refuse the veil/drive a car/etc." This is just blaming the victim.

    Oh, and "Addiction is no excuse for breaking the law." is begging the question. Presuming that opiates should be illegal because addicts should be punished for breaking the law is circular reasoning.

    They enforce laws against cocaine, turning people towards more easily obtained, yet far more harmful stimulants like meth.

    "Those two things are VERY dissimilar in how they act in your body. That's a bad argument. Coke heads don't go to meth. They go to crack. Meth use and cocaine use are in entirely separate areas of the country at the micro-scale, and in entirely separate communities at the macro-scale."

    He's wrong in the first case, as you'd expect from a police officer lecturing about pharmacology. Cocaine and methamphetamine both act at the norepinephrine and dopamine transporters. Cocaine blocks reuptake, while methamphetamine runs the transporter in reverse. Both lead to extra neurotransmitter in the synapse of stimulatory/pleasure systems. The main pharmacological difference is that methamphetamine is metabolized much more slowly.

    He's right in the second case, but the reasons for that are largely cultural and economic. If everything is equally available at reasonable prices, and people are educated properly, cocaine would likely displace a lot of meth use, leading to better public health. You'd also eliminate meth labs in one fell swoop.

    The enforce laws against psychedelics, depriving most of the country from one of the most awe inspiring, and still incredibly safe experiences life has to offer.

    "You could, you know, do something else awe inspiring. Ever seen the grand canyon? If your life is so boring that you MUST have psychedelics to enjoy it, you need to evaluate the choices you make."

    As if nobody ever dies at the Grand Canyon? As if psychedelics that unlock corners of the mind and put us in touch with the closest thing to divinity that can be scientifically reproduced are not a natural wonder of the world, every bit as worthy of experiencing as the Grand Canyon? As if I couldn't say "If your life is so boring that you MUST see some giant hole in the ground, you need to

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...