Oct 152010
 
 October 15, 2010  Featured News, Laws, Surveillance

From The Associated Press:

Starting next year, dozens of states will begin knitting together databases to watch prescription drug abuse, from powerful painkillers to diet pills.

With federal money and prodding, states are being asked to sign onto an agreement allowing police, pharmacies and physicians to check suspicious prescription pill patterns from Nevada to North Carolina.

Civil liberties and privacy advocates have objected to the state databases, which would be linked with technology and standards developed by the Justice and Homeland Security departments.

Thirty-four states operate databases to fight a drug problem authorities say is growing more deadly than heroin.

Read more on Lancaster Online.

In related news, Greg Risling of The Associated Press reports that CVS has agreed to pay a $75 million fine and forfeit $2.6 million in profits for its failure to comply with the Controlled Substances Act:

Authorities said CVS didn’t provide enough safeguards to monitor how much pseudoephedrine someone was buying, and the company violated federal drug regulations in Arizona, Georgia, California, Nevada, South Carolina and possibly 20 other states.

“CVS knew it had a duty to prevent methamphetamine trafficking,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “But it failed to take steps to control the sale of a regulated drug used by methamphetamine cooks as an essential ingredient for their poisonous stew.”

So what next? We’ll have to produce photo ID or our passports to buy over-the-counter preparations when we have flu or colds?    If two people in your family are on medication for ADHD, will the government get suspicious that maybe you’re abusing stimulants?  If you lose your medicine and have to get an unscheduled renewal, will you be viewed as a possible felon?

And I can just picture what will happen when everyone in the house is sick and you send one person out to pick up over-the-counter supplies for everyone.

Perish the thought that local pharmacists, who often have a very solid awareness of a customers’ health history, should be allowed to use some discretion.

Of course, one alternative is to begin to regulate the sale of some over-the-counter preparations by making them by prescription only. But that, too, has its own significant drawbacks and it doesn’t address the fact that police want to look at your prescription records for signs of drug abuse.

So here we are…. how do you keep otherwise potentially useful products out of the hands of the bad guys? By having all the law-abiding folks put under greater surveillance and inconvenience, it seems.

A small price to pay…. we can all just sacrifice a few more of our liberties and privacy in service of this goal, too, right?

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