Sheriffs in North Carolina want to know exactly what’s in your medicine cabinet.
The sheriffs want to know who is getting what controlled substances — and they don’t want to have to get a warrant or to explain their reasons.
North Carolina’s sheriff’s association told a legislative health care committee that they want access to the state’s computerized prescription drug records, saying that the information would help them make drug arrests and to stop those who are abusing the system.
The state Department of Health and Human Services says that almost 30 percent of North Carolina’s residents received at least one prescription for a controlled substance in the first six months of this year.
The News Observer reports that, “The state started collecting the information in 2007 to help doctors identify patients who go from doctor to doctor looking for prescription drugs they may not need, and to keep pharmacists from supplying patients with too many pills. But only about 20 percent of the state’s doctors have registered to use the information, and only 10 percent of the pharmacies are registered.”
Exactly how the sheriffs’ access to patients’ private information would help is not clear, absent a criminal investigation already in progress.
Prescription drug abuse — by those who are prescribed the drugs and by those who illegally use what is prescribed for others — is a serious problem, no doubt about it. But there’s got to be another way.
I don’t like the thought of nosy guests peeking into my medicine cabinet and I certainly don’t want law enforcement officials doing so. Such a move would strike right at the heart of privacy rights.
What medical conditions we have and the medication we are taking to treat it is about as personal as it gets. We shouldn’t have to worry about the assumptions a sheriff might make about the prescription drugs we take; we shouldn’t have to be concerned about becoming suspects because we filled a doctor’s prescription.
WSOCTV reports that in January North Carolina legislators will begin debating whether or not to draft a bill on the issue.
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