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Kentucky Prescription Drug Bill Sparks Privacy Debate

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Prescription PIllsIn a recent Wall Street Journal article, Timothy A. Martin reports on a hotly debated proposed bill in Kentucky that has doctors, politicians, and police “locking horns” over patients’ right to privacy.  The bill, designed to “crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs,” would allow only licensed physicians to operate pain clinics, and give police easier access to the prescription drug database which, in Kentucky, is currently maintained by the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Board of Medical Licensure.   The new bill would give control of the database to the attorney general’s office, giving that office and local prosecutors broader access to it than they currently have.  Governor Steve Beshear (D),  one of the bills supporters, argues that such measures are necessary to help law enforcement identify patients who are abusing prescription painkillers, as well as dealers and doctors operating “pill mills.”

Not all are in favor, however, and see such legislation as having the potential to breach patient privacy.  One group standing in opposition to the proposed legislation is the Kentucky Medical Association, which represents the state’s physicians and asserts that giving law enforcement oversight of the prescription drug database is “an invasion of personal privacy.”

Shawn Jones, a physician and KMA president, called the bill “overreach” and told the Wall Street Journal, “You are essentially legislating medical care.  We think doctors should write those regulations, not legislatures.”

What do you think?  We’re curious as to whether our readers see Kentucky’s proposed bill as a positive step towards controlling prescription drug abuse, or rather as a “Big Brother” tactic that will further erode our rights as patients and citizens.  Let us know in the comments.

Source: Wall Street JournalPolice, Pill Mills, and Privacy

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