don’t open the medicine cabinet

Am I the only one a little bit scared by this idea? No, scratch that: Am I the only one horrified and terrified by this idea?

The rub:

Sheriffs in North Carolina want access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances.

The state sheriff’s association pushed the idea Tuesday, saying the move would help them make drug arrests and curb a growing problem of prescription drug abuse. But patient advocates say opening up people’s medicine cabinets to law enforcement would deal a devastating blow to privacy rights.

I get that allowing law enforcement the ability to know who has been prescribed pain killers would likely make their job easier when it comes to those abusing the drugs. I understand that. I really do. But what about those of us — and I would wager we are the vast majority of opiate users — who take the drug as directed under a doctor’s care? What about those of us with arthritis, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders, injury or anyone else with a legitimate need for pain killers? Last I checked, I didn’t sign away my right to privacy when my NP prescribed some darvocet.

I feel that when I go to the doctor’s office, I have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Ditto for when I pick up my prescriptions at my local pharmacy. It’s a shame that some people become addicted to these powerful drugs and some people sell them illegally. But I don’t think that is enough reason to allow Deputy Smith at the local sheriff’s office the right to type my name into a database and see what drugs I’m taking. I hope North Carolina’s legislators see it my way because the alternative — and its implications for other states and privacy rights — is, quite frankly, a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four for my tastes.

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