H.R. 3015, the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act, passed in the U. S. House of Representatives in October. It's now before the Senate, where it's slated for a voice vote before the current session of Congress expires on January 2, 2005. A voice vote is a way to pass a bill quickly without a record of which way each senator voted.
This bill would encourage states to establish programs requiring physicians and other providers such as pharmacists to report any and every prescription for a wide range of commonly prescribed drugs, including pain medications and antidepressants. In addition to the medicine and dose, the doctor would have to give the government the patient's name, address and telephone number.
This private prescription information would then become part of a national computer database, available to the police and also possibly to employers, newspapers, blackmailers or anybody else curious about such information.
The patient would not even know about the release of this prescription information, much less consent to its release or review. Police would have access to personal prescription information without having probable cause to believe a crime had been committed and without having to convince a judge to issue a search warrant.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents and state licensure boards already have great powers. They currently can get information on prescriptions written for controlled substances and have sweeping authority to investigate anybody they choose and to prosecute doctors for prescribing more painkillers than agents think appropriate.
HR 3015 would dramatically enhance the reach of police and DEA agents into the privacy of doctors and patients.
In opposition to the bill, Rep. Ron Paul, M.D., of Texas said HR 3015 "is yet another unjustifiable attempt by the federal government to use the war on drugs as an excuse for invading the privacy and liberties of the American people and for expanding the federal government's disastrous micromanagement of medical care."
He pointed out that the government is embarking on a "war on pain patients and their doctors" that "has already resulted in the harassment and prosecution of many doctors...whose only 'crime' is prescribing legal medication...to relieve their patients' pain. These prosecutions, in turn, have scared other doctors so that they are unwilling to prescribe an adequate amount of pain medication, or even any pain medication, for their suffering patients."
QUOTED TEXT ENDS.