Prescription Drug Monitoring Act clears committee

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a substitute version of SB 418, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act this morning, setting it up for placement on the calendar for the full Senate to vote on before Crossover Day, March 25th. This legislation will establish a state surveillance system for the monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of certain medications. The database will included most pain relievers, anxiety medications, sleep aids, anti-diarrheals and anything containing codeine. This database would bypass Fourth Amendment requirements for a warrant for this information.

Reason recently looked into the consequences of this action:


A report by John Stossel (around 26 minutes) notes that many doctors are now avoiding prescribing painkillers out of fear that they will be arrested or fined.

At the beginning of last month, the State Senate passed a bill that would prohibit involuntary microchip implants, which is not a threat. Here were facing a real threat of government invading our personal privacy and relationship with doctors and the Senate is ignoring basic civil liberties. Nice.

30 comments

  1. Game Fan says:

    Anti-diarrheals? How do anti-diarrheals harm society? If anything a guy WITH diarrhea is going to be a much worse driver, statistically speaking. And you don’t want him/her operating heavy machinery either. Especially things that vibrate or jackhammers, ect…

    • Republican Lady says:

      HOPEFULLY, they are not talking about over-the-counter products but just those requiring prescriptions like Lomotil (presciption anti-diarrheal).

    • drjay says:

      a lot of antidiarrheals have an abuse potential b/c they are chemically related to narcotics–in fact i’m pretty sure lomotil is a class v scheduled drug

      • Mozart says:

        Alcohol has an “abuse potential” and yet that is freely sold in non-pharmacy environments. Why is that?

        • Republican Lady says:

          Because Prohibition didn’t work and the government doesn’t seem to want to try that option again. Not only are alcoholic beverages available but medications like Nyquil, which some teens seem to like to take when they can’t get other forms of alcohol.

          What do you think the answer should be to the problem?

    • Game Fan says:

      Safe for now. But this sure looks like somadad “McLegislation” which may originate in DC (K-Street). In this case keep an eye out for similar legislation coming to Tennessee also.

  2. Technocrat says:

    Obviously thay cannot control illegal heroin, so it appears legislators are in business with drug dealers…..kick backs – campaign contributions?
    Very very very dilute oral heroin can be used as a substitute for most scheduled things..
    “when heroin metabloizes in your liver, it breaks back down into morphine” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin

    Generally addicts will find a suitable substitute. Personally I would rather see them go to doctors to get their fix!

  3. Chris says:

    I would very much like to see how the candidate for US Congress in the 7th District handles this bill when it comes before him in Committee. We already see Hawkins supports invasion of privacy and big Government. How will Balfour handle this bill?

  4. Jeremy Jones says:

    STOP THE MADNESS!

    I cannot believe this is both happening, and being sponsored by someone who is going around claiming to be for individual freedom and smaller government.

    Tell me Dr. Hawkins, how many teeth have you extracted and upon filing out a prescription form thought it would be a good idea to call the police to let them know the person will be buying some pain pills?

    As a doctor, if you think the script is being used for reasons other than the intended, then do not write it.

    If this bill is so good, why not just require everyone carry around a frequent shopper type card and all transactions must be assigned to the person’s card so you can keep up with people buying things that might be used to write dirty letters, take pictures, or engage in consensual adult behavior?

    From the good doctor’s website: http://www.leehawkinsforcongress.com/issues.php

    ” Lee has one primary goal: to reduce the size of government while protecting our individual liberties…”

    Yo Doc!, registering peoples purchases in CASE they might abuse it or break a law is a far cry from “protecting our individual liberties.”

    It is my liberty to abuse drugs if I so choose, it the government’s job to punish me if I do, not assume everyone is a criminal.

  5. Joshua Morris says:

    Have you folks read the bill? I know first hand that privacy concerns were a major issue addressed before presenting this bill. No one’s pain meds are going to be banned if they are using them as prescribed by one doctor:

    “16-13-60.
    (a) Prescription information submitted to the agency pursuant to Code Section 16-13-59 shall be confidential and shall not be subject to open records requirements, as contained in Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50, except as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this Code section.
    (b) The agency shall establish and maintain strict procedures to ensure that the privacy and confidentiality of patients and prescribers and patient and prescriber information collected, recorded, transmitted, and maintained pursuant to Code Sections 16-13-57 through 16-13-64 are protected. Such information shall not be disclosed to persons except as otherwise provided in Code Sections 16-13-57 through 16-13-64 and only in a manner which in no way would conflict with the requirements of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, P.L. 104-191. This may include, but shall not be limited to, restricting access only to those individuals and entities which clearly demonstrate a need to know such information.
    (c) The agency shall review the prescription information, and if there is reasonable cause to believe a violation of law or breach of professional standards may have occurred, the board shall notify the appropriate professional licensing, certification, or regulatory agency or entity or appropriate law enforcement agency and shall provide prescription information to such entity or agency which may be necessary for an investigation. In no event shall the agency be authorized to analyze prescription information of any individual patient or physician unless there is reasonable cause to believe that an impropriety may have occurred.”

    The purpose of this bill is to stop abusers from getting the same prescription from multiple doctors on Friday and filling the prescriptions at multiple pharmacies to feed their addictions and to sell the pills to others. The database will help doctors and pharmacists avoid prescribing and dispensing the same drugs multiple times to the same person. Law enforcement doesn’t even have access to it without a court order or an information request following Ga Crime Information Center requirements.

    Jeremy, extracting a tooth is not the only procedure that requires pain meds. Some people have abscessed teeth that they never have fixed, and they use this to get different doctors on different days to prescribe pain meds. Before HIPAA, doctors and pharmacists could collaborate more freely regarding abusers. Now they have to be very careful what they share with one another. This will help that situation, while not making patients’ information freely available to people who don’t need to know.

    • Jeremy Jones says:

      Yes, I am well aware of how people work the system.

      My comment is the same. So what. Go after the ones that abuse the system. Get a warrant to search their doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

      To say this is a measure to simply prevent abuse is silly. I have no doubt that it will stop some people from abusing the system.

      Well, requiring mini-cams in hotel rooms would prevent some prostitution. Requiring real time logs of OnStar Systems would prevent a lot of speeding. There are 100’s, if not 1000’s of things we could do to prevent all kinds of crime. However, the job of the government is not prevent crime, but rather to punish crimes that have been committed.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        Well put. I’m pretty sure that selling prescription drugs is against the law already (People definitely aren’t allowed to use someone else’s prescription drugs). Why do we need more laws? It would seem to be that (lack of) enforcement is the issue. Gone are the days of the sleuth detectives. Now it is all about expediency and technology over due process.

        If you have legitimate doctors fearful of prescribing medications to legitimate patients, it’s gone too far.

  6. reaganrev4 says:

    I may have dreamed this but I am pretty sure I heard somewhere that Georgia is currently the most lax on issues regarding the abuse of prescription drugs? Don’t dealers and abusers frequent our great state because it is the easiest in the southeast to pull off scams such as the ones that Joshua is referring to? I may be wrong, but I’m sure someone can confirm or debunk that claim. I am in no way in support of government infringing on my personal privacy but I dont feel this bill does that. It simply keeps Georgia from being used as a state where prescription drugs are sold and acquired illegally. And further, as I see it, this law will protect doctors of our great state from such scams and further lawsuits.

    • Jason Pye says:

      This bill may “protect” doctors because, as John Stossel notes, it scares doctors away from prescribing medication that eases the pain of patients, who get the short end of this legislation.

      I don’t see how anyone can claim that a state-run database that contains information not obtained through constitutional requirements doesn’t infringe on personal privacy.

  7. Game Fan says:

    Another agency, eh? Frankly I think the Republican party of Ga. would have been much better off had not so many Democrats switched over AFTER Reagan. And if this new “agency” isn’t doing the bidding of big pharma somehow I’ll eat my hat.

    • Game Fan says:

      That last part (about big pharma) is part of the unauthorized Ron Paul “appeal to the left” program instituted by myself and my loyal staff, Lo Hung the Magnanimous. 😉

  8. chefdavid says:

    How many times have we read about insurance co. or the va exposing information by someone accidently selling, loosing, or taking a computer home? So doesn’t this bill make you feel safe that every doctor/ and pharmacy will be transmitting this data. I am sure they won’t accidentally get an ip address wrong once or twice. I can’t believe under the argument of ehtic reforms they didn’t include birth control or purchases of condoms in this bill.

  9. birdfan says:

    Pye – I’m against this bill. It is very concerning.

    However, I’m not sure why you are FOR forcing microchips into people against their will.

    You wrote, “At the beginning of last month, the State Senate passed a bill that would prohibit involuntary microchip implants, which is not a threat”

    I’m against BOTH measures…not pitting one against the other!

  10. Rick Day says:

    Perception: Passing this legislation will eliminate prescription drug abuse.

    Reality: The cost of pills will skyrocket on the black market. Spam folders will be raided for ‘mail order pills’ suppliers, eager to sell product.

    Conclusion: Feel-good ‘tough on drugs’ legislation makes problem worse

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