Sept 14, 2010
Sheriffs in North Carolina are petitioning state legislators to be given access to the database of patients who are in possession of powerful prescription painkillers and other controlled substances. The state sheriff’s association fronted the idea last week, saying it would help them make more arrests of people who illegally sell prescription narcotics (painkillers), almost all of which are acquired through doctor prescriptions of FDA-approved drugs.
Astonishingly, almost 30 percent of North Carolina residents received a controlled substance prescription drug this year alone. That means the sheriff’s drug database, if granted, would give law enforcement details of the medication habits of 3 out of every 10 residents in the state.
For starters, that this situation exists at all should raise concern about the widespread use of dangerous pharmaceuticals by the medical industry. If these drugs are so addictively dangerous that sheriffs want to track them down, why are tens of millions of people being put on these drugs in the first place?
That’s not to say that powerful painkillers aren’t appropriate in some extreme circumstances, but Americans seem to be drowning in these drugs. Clearly, something amiss in the doctor’s office.
It’s not difficult to know what that is, either: Many doctors receive kickbacks (essentially bribes) from drug companies when they prescribe more pharmaceuticals to patients. Some of the more clever doctors say they’re “enrolling patients in a clinical trial” even when the whole point of the clinical trial is to just get a large number of people taking more drugs, after which the doctor receives a check from the drug company for running the so-called trial.
The medical industry is flooding our streets with dangerous narcotics, even as they claim to be against illegal drugs, some of which are based on the very same chemical molecules found in prescription drugs. Street drugs like speed, for example, are now prescribed as ADHD amphetamines, and they’re commonly abused by today’s college students.
These obvious contradictions in drug policy tend to confuse kids and teens in particular, who are told on one hand “don’t take drugs” but then on the other hand “unless they come in an orange prescription bottle.” Meanwhile, a significant majority of parents are also abusing prescription drugs, relying on highly addictive chemicals to sleep, to wake up, to adjust their moods, to reduce pain and so on. So when kids see their parents popping pills just to function, the message is very clear: It’s okay to use chemicals to get through the day.
The second concerning issue here is the idea that Big Government is interested in tracking what’s in your medicine cabinet. In this case, however, it’s not the feds; it’s more like “local Big Brother” in the form of sheriffs.
Now, I happen to have a lot of respect for local sheriffs, and I know quite a few who are working hard to fight crime, usually with very little funding and almost ridiculously little support from legislators. Local sheriffs are constantly battling problems with meth production and abuse, and now they’re also fighting against prescription drug abuse. They are under-funded, under-appreciated and under-staffed.
So it’s no surprise that they’re looking for new tools that could help them save time in trying to crack down (heh heh, literally) on community drug abuse.
The question is: Should the privacy of patients take precedence over the law enforcement needs of local sheriffs?
In other words: Does local law enforcement have the right to know what’s in your medicine cabinet… even if that information could help them track down genuine drug abusers?
From one point of view, this might have a benefit because it could allow sheriffs to query the database after a car accident, for example, and determine if the driver might have been taking mind-altering prescription drugs. The “driving while medicated” epidemic is a huge problem in America today, and it is vastly under-recognized.
But there’s also a huge opportunity for any prescription drug database to be abused by law enforcement. Medications that people are taking might be used against them in court, for example, and in those rare cases where a rogue sheriff employee is actually one of the bad guys, this data could be used to break into peoples’ homes and steal their valuable narcotic medications. A rogue sheriff employee could even sell this information to gangs would do the breaking and entering for them. (I’m not saying this is common, but there are, after all, some bad apples in every branch of law enforcement.)
Beyond all that, most people are justifiably uncomfortable with the idea of the government knowing what prescription medications they take. But truth be told, the new health care reforms put in place by the Obama administration already mandate much the same thing. The deeper government gets involved in health care, the less medical privacy anyone has.
I prefer government to get its hands off my health care altogether. I don’t want Big Brother tracking my meds (well, I don’t take any meds, but you know what I mean), tracking my health statistics and running my health insurance programs.
I don’t even want states to tell me that I can’t see an N.D. and have to go see an M.D. because those are the only people who are “licensed” in that state. This monopolistic power over accepted health treatments has traditionally been used to squash competing health therapies (like naturopathy or chiropractic) while reinforcing dangerous medical monopolies that mostly peddle poisons or surgeries.
I think patients should have both their privacy and their freedoms — and this includes the freedom to know the truth about how natural foods, supplements and remedies can both prevent and reverse serious disease (http://www.naturalnews.com/029698_c…).
I also strongly disagree with the current law enforcement policies that criminalize drug addicts and throw them in prison rather than helping them get off those drugs and create a better life for themselves. The War On Drugs has been a complete failure and a massive waste of taxpayer funds, and I’m concerned that if we allow sheriffs to start tracking the medication habits of everyday citizens, we’re only going to end up with more people been thrown into the prison system when what they really need is holistic medicine that can wean them off dangerous drug addictions.
So I oppose turning over prescription medication records to sheriff’s offices, but for more reasons than just the “privacy” argument (although that’s a legitimate argument all by itself).
This article was posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 3:44 am