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Judge: Patients' Prescription Histories Not Protected From Government Searches

MGN Online

A Florida appeals judge has dismissed a case challenging the release of the prescription drug histories of more than 3,300 patients. His ruling says the government’s interest in regulating drugs outweighs patients’ expectation of privacy.

The original suit was brought by Daytona Beach lawyer Michael Lambert after state attorneys obtained his records from the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database during an unrelated forgery investigation. The state had requested prescription histories of four doctors and their pharmacies.

Lambert argued the drug database was a violation of his constitutional protection against unwarranted searches and seizures. But Judge Waddell Wallace threw out the case, writing in his opinion that patients have a diminished privacy expectation when they fill prescriptions.

Florida’s drug database has been increasingly controversial since last year’s records release. Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) is pushing a proposal requiring investigators present a court order to access records. Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida sheriffs oppose the change.