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.

4 thoughts on “don’t open the medicine cabinet

  1. It’s complete BS. I was really angry when I first read about it yesterday. It is incredibly invasive and inappropriate. We are not criminals. We are patients needing pain relief!

  2. Great post, Nessie. And I completely agree with you. There has to be a better way than law enforcement officers invading the privacy of the citizens they’re supposed to protect to curb prescription drug abuse. Yes, it’s widespread. Yes, it’s a problem. But the sheriff’s association in NC is going about resolving the problem in the worst, wrongest way possible.

    I don’t know what the answer to the problem is. But invading my privacy isn’t it.

  3. Oh my! I so agree… but if they do one kind of medication they would need I feel to share EVERYONE’s medication.. in all fairness. Including Viagra and other interesting drugs. I am sure narcotics are not the only black market items.. Besides ALL drugs can kill. That is why they are listed under the FDA.

    I think that this addition to the suggestion may just derail the need to know. I can’t imagine that the officers who are suggesting this would want their list of medications available to be perused by other officers and pertinent enforcement staff. Just sayin’!

    I don’t think that those pharm parties are exclusive to narcotics, at least that is not what they show on TV.. ( because that’s the only place I’ve heard about them, since most of us who utilize stronger medications have the energy to gallivant in social drug seeking circles.. Geesh!)

    Good post thanks for sharing!

  4. Diana: Exactly! Don’t punish those of us who use pain medication properly just because there are those who don’t. Sheesh.

    Wren: Amen. There has to be a better way to help law enforcement catch the people who abuse the system than invading legitimate patients’ privacy.

    Tonja: I sure hope this suggestion gets derailed. The implications are just too horrible otherwise.

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