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Oregon Getting Tougher On Drugs?

January 31, 2007


Oregon has some of the highest prescription drug abuse rates in the nation. Today Oregon lawmakers will consider a proposal to track the use of all controlled prescription drugs. But some civil liberties advocates say a new proposal to combat the problem is a Trojan Horse. The bill would create a database of anyone using common medications like codeine, Ambien, and Ritalin. Andrea Meyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon says it opens the door to major loss of privacy that could also have health consequences.

"It's dangerous because it could chill our relationship with our doctors and our ability to share information and keep the patient doctor relationship confidential."

The Oregon Pharmacy Board and other supporters of the bill say they're trying to deter prescription drug abuse. Meyer is concerned that the proposal would treat all Oregonians like drug abusers, when really a small percentage are the problem. The government database would include personal drug and medical history information, but also likely include other information like social security numbers.

"You're not only at risk about having the information released about your medicines, but you're also at more risk to having identity theft issues arise."

Meyer adds that the bill also grants immunity to anyone who releases the information accidentally, or on purpose. Supporters say the bill would help control prescription drug abuse.

Information on prescription drug abuse by state is online at www.oas.samhsa.gov/Prescription/Ch7.htm. The bill is SB 34.


Dondrea Warner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - OR