Senators reintroduce Prescription Drug Monitoring Act

You may remember HB 614, Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, from the 2009 session of the state legislature. This bill would have set up a state surveillance system for the monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of certain medications. The database would have included most pain relievers, anxiety medications, sleep aids, anti-diarrheals and anything containing codeine.

As former Congressman and US Attorney Bob Barr noted, HB 614 was intended “to make it easier for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to discover alleged ‘pill pushers’ and prescription drug abusers without having to go through the normal – and constitutionally appropriate – process of obtaining subpoenas and warrants (in other words, without having to first develop some evidence that a person may be violating the law before invading their privacy).”

The legislation was a clear violation of the right to privacy and protections against searches without a warrant protected in both the state and federal constitutions, as well as already established court precedent.

Under Georgia law, no law enforcement official can lawfully obtain any part of a Georgia citizen’s medical record without first obtaining the patient’s consent or a court order, such as a search warrant or a subpoena. In Johnson v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that “the State is not entitled to exercise indiscriminate subpoena power as an investigative substitute for procedural devices otherwise available to it in the criminal context, such as a search warrant.”

In King v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court reiterated that “In this state, privacy is considered a fundamental constitutional right and is ‘recognized as having a value so essential to individual liberty in our society that [its] infringement merits careful scrutiny by the courts.’” It also noted that “[p]ermitting the State unlimited access to medical records for the purposes of prosecuting the patient would have the highly oppressive effect of chilling the decision of any and all Georgians to seek medical treatment.”

HB 614 was passed in the House by a vote of 161 to 9 on Crossover Day, but was defeated in the Senate just days later by a vote of 25 to 29. As you can see in the video below, Sen. Preston Smith was key in killing HB 614:

On Sine Die, supporters of the bill attempted to sneak it through in an amendment to SB 56. This was picked up by talk show host Neal Boortz, who alerted his Georgia listeners to what was going. SB 56 faced tough questioning from House members, including many privacy advocates that missed HB 614 the first time around, and was eventually tabled.

Unfortunately, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act is back, although the sponsors aren’t using that name this time around. SB 418 was filed on February 16th and is sitting in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. A hearing has not been scheduled at this time.

I cannot say that it will receive consideration this year because of everything else going on, but it appears that some noise is being made by supporters of the bill. SB 418 would have to clear the Senate by the end of business on Thursday, March 25th, to be considered this session.


  1. Game Fan says:

    Cripes! This is all we need is a bunch of criminals (politicians) spending more taxpayer money, creating another agency, and hiring more bureaucrats to “monitor” something which can’t even be quantified by Albert Einstein.

  2. Romegaguy says:

    I have another stupid idea. Let’s put up on a website what people were treated for, etc when going to see their Doctor. We’ll take away their name and social security number so you wont know specifically who they are unless you know when they went to the doctor or maybe where the Doctor is located…

    Brought to you by the same guy that thought it was a great idea to force Georgians to have health insurance. Not Obama, but Senator Judson Hill.

  3. chefdavid says:

    I say use the $1.00 a pack tax to pay for this. This way if someone quits smoking (thus the state getting less revenue to smoke a little ganja) the tax would pay to stop the slow drivers who don’t get over. Oh. I am sorry that is another bill. (Please will someone add an admendment to that bill that makes it illegal for any vehicle pulling a trailer to get in the left lane on I24 or I59. The interstate is only two lanes each way and those big trucks slow to 45 sometimes going up the hill.) If they are texting they need to pull over to the rest area because that is another bill. But then they can get some cheetos at the new privatized rest area that is being built by the design build method with stimulas money where we won’t have our matching part of the grant this year but we have changed our method of accounting so we really have the money on paper but the real money will come in next year after we collect another penny or two on the transportation sales tax and we will transmit the information over our new stimuoptic network with electricity because we are paying for it today so that one day it will be green and wink wink it will be cheaper in the future and if you call to complain you will pay a little extra for the next 10 years for a rural phone suplement that is outdated and need not worry you to will be able to create a run on sentence like this because if you are a school on the list of wrong to right test erasures your board will investigate yourself but even if you find something wrong dont worry because of your kin is on the board he is grandfathered in so you will be ok. Can’t wait for sine die this year it will take us 10 years to figure this one out after all the admendments last minute deals bring back the good ole frat days where nothing got done.

    On a serious note, Is this the bill I heard introduced that is trying to prevent synthetic marijuana? I have never heard of that before. In a year trying to cut cost this looks like it will cost us in someway.

  4. newsgirl says:

    This will help get rid of substance abuse like we have gotten rid of the Meth lab problem in Georgia because you have to sign over your life in order to get Sudafed.

  5. chefdavid says:

    Sad thing is that is the state of the state. Correction the right lane in the post above is what I mean. Well you all know what I mean, I was just running to erase my answer….

  6. todd rehm says:

    On Thursday, March 12, the HHS Committee referred SB 418 to a subcommittee whose members are:

    Senator Lee Hawkins-Chair
    Senator Preston Smith
    Senator John Wiles
    Senator Judson Hill
    Senator Nan Orrock

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