Friday, September 17, 2010

N.C. law enforcement calls for expanded access to prescription drug database

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper voiced support for expanding access to state computer records to track prescription drug abuse. Speaking Wednesday at a Charlotte meeting with law enforcement leaders from North Carolina and 25 other states, Cooper called prescription drug abuse "the biggest drug threat today," Franco Ordoñez of the Charlotte Observer reports. North Carolina deaths associated with prescription-drug abuse rose from 798 in 2008 to 826 in 2009, Ordoñez writes.

"The state sheriff's association called for access to the electronic records earlier this month at a legislative health care committee meeting," Ordoñez writes. "Groups such as the ACLU and the American Pain Foundation said law enforcement shouldn't be poking around people's medicine cabinets." Cooper said 20 state bureaus currently have access to prescription-drug records, and he would support expanding access to include other law enforcement officials like designated sheriff's deputies or police.

"Obviously there needs to be balance with privacy. This is very private information about people's prescription drugs," he said. "On the other hand, we know the deaths that these drugs can cause and the abuse of them. And being able to have a system in place that can show us who is abusing prescription drugs and who is getting them illegally can be helpful." North Carolina began collecting prescription drug data in 2007 to track patients going from doctor to doctor for prescriptions they may not need, Ordoñez reports. (Read more)

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