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    Wall Street Journal: Police, Pill Mills and Privacy

    The Wall Street Journal reports on controversy surrounding proposed legislation in Kentucky that could affect individuals’ medical privacy rights:

    Politicians, law-enforcement officials and physicians in Kentucky are locking horns over a proposed bill to crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs, in a debate that pits patient privacy against efforts to curb the nation’s expanding epidemic of addiction to painkillers.

    More than seven million Americans use prescription drugs such as oxycodone for nonmedical reasons, dwarfing the 1.5 million addicted to cocaine, and Kentucky is an epicenter of abuse, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. […]

    The Republican-controlled Senate is considering a vote as early as Friday on a bill that would restrict ownership of pain clinics to licensed physicians and give law enforcement easier access to the state’s prescription-drug database, which tracks writers and recipients of prescriptions, as well as where the drugs are dispensed. Such a law would help law-enforcement officials better identify addicts, dealers and shady doctors helping patients amass piles of painkillers, supporters of the bill say. […]

    But the bill faces fierce opposition from the Kentucky Medical Association, a trade group representing the state’s physicians. The group worries giving law enforcement oversight of a database with prescription-drug information is a violation of personal privacy.

    “You are essentially legislating medical care. We think doctors should write those regulations, not legislatures,” said Shawn Jones, a practicing physician and president of the KMA. The bill is an “overreach,” he said. […]

    Similar legislative pushes in Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and other states have also faced stiff opposition from physician and pharmacy trade groups. […]

    Some 48 states have legislation requiring prescription-drug-monitoring programs, up from just 16 a decade ago, according to the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs. Some programs cover all prescriptions; others focus on controlled substances only.

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