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IPFS News Link • Arizona's Top News

Signed as Law: Arizona Prohibits Warrantless Access to Prescription Databases

•, By Michael Maharrey

The law will protect patient privacy in Arizona and hinder the ever-expanding national surveillance state.

Sen. Nancy Barto (R) introduced Senate Bill 1469 (SB1469) in January. The new law prohibits the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy from releasing any information contained in the prescription drug monitoring program database (PDMP) to local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies without a warrant. Under the old law, the board could release such data if a law enforcement agency stated in writing that the information was "necessary" for an open investigation.

The Senate passed SB1469 by a 28-0 vote. The House approved the measure 46-0. With Gov. Ducey's signature, the law will go into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns sine die (currently scheduled for June 30).

Arizona joins 18 other states that require warrants to access prescription databases.

Law enforcement agencies often use information in state PDMP databases in the "war on drugs." Easy access to such databases allows police to conduct fishing expeditions in order to catch doctors "overprescribing" or patients abusing prescription pain meds. According to the CATO institute, this creates a chilling effect and makes doctor's reluctant to prescribe necessary pain medication.

During testimony in favor of the bill, CATO senior fellow Jeffery Singer said easy access to prescription information "fuels incarceration and can make people reluctant to seek medical care." He added that pain medication should be a standard of care question, not a crime question.