CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - Sheriff’s offices across North Carolina say they want access to records that identify people with prescriptions for powerful painkillers. They say the access can help them fight the growing problem of prescription drug abuse but others say it’s a violation of privacy.
Brad Keller was run over by a car 15 years ago. The accident crushed all the nerves in his left foot and left him with a condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or RSD.
In order to simply function, Keller was placed on a variety of medications from percocet to oxycodone. He took the drugs for 14 years, until he said he had had enough.
Keller is now virtually pain free because his condition made him a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator. But he’s still fighting for the thousands of Americans who suffer everyday.
“The people who take this medication don’t take it because they want to; they take it because they have to,” Keller said.
Keller is now a volunteer advocate for the American Pain Foundation. His newest battle is on the homefront.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association went to a legislative health committee asking for access to state computer records that ID people with prescriptions for certain drugs.
Association president Sam Page said it will help them combat a growing problem.
“We take that information, we could go and check against that database and see if that person, in fact, appears to be doctor shopping and obtaining prescriptions for the purpose of resell, which is illegal,” he said.
While well intended, Keller feels this move violates a person’s right to privacy.
“You’re talking about accessing my private records for what purpose? You certainly aren’t medical professionals,” he said.
At this time, Page says the proposal is just that and hopes it will start a dialogue on how to better assist law enforcement in finding the criminals abusing the system.
In response to the proposal, William Bronson with the state Department of Health and Human Services, is offering a compromise. He suggests the state allow drug investigators to request information from the database related to a specific investigation.
Currently, investigators with the SBI use a similar process.