Does law enforcement have access to your HRT prescription records?

The DEA is fighting to have warrantless searches of state drug prescription databases.

Does law enforcement have access to your HRT prescription records?

The Utah Attorney General’s office decided not to appeal a court decision that allows the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to search the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database without a warrant.

Equality Utah, among the group’s hoping to prevent warrantless searches of the database, “argued that the searches violate the privacy of transgender people whose hormone medications are recorded in the database.”

Commenting on the possibility of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs and patients’ names being listed in state databases, Gianna Meranto, an Oklahoma transgender activist, said she doesn’t think they should be included unless it is suggested by WPATH  (World Physicians Association for Transgender Health). “I don’t see anywhere where they suggest that hormone replacement therapy drugs should be included,” Meranto said.

In an Oregon case seeking to prevent warrantless searches, two transgender men joined the case.  “In Oregon, anyone prescribed testosterone is included in the PDMP, which prompted two transgender men to join the case in protest,” according to the Marshall Projectwebsite.

“Records of the prescription medications we take can reveal some of the most private and sensitive information about us,” says the ACLU. “Knowing that a person self-administers prescription testosterone injections can reveal that he is a transgender man undergoing hormone replacement therapy. Knowing that someone takes Xanax, Valium, or other anti-anxiety medications can reveal a diagnosis of mental illness. If a person is on Marinol, a medication containing synthetic THC, they may be fighting weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS.”

Some state legislatures have given specific legal protections to drug databases as was done in Utah. Although the DEA will now be able to search databases, Utah law enforcement officials will not be able to.

The ACLU’s position is that patients have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their drug prescription records, and that law enforcement should have to get a warrant under the Fourth Amendment to do those searches.

In The Gayly’sregion Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas have PDMP databases. In Oklahoma the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics controls the database; in 2011 (the last year for which data was available) there were 770,545 patient history reports generated. In Kansas, the Board of Pharmacy controls the data base, and produced three reports in 2011.

Arkansas assigned the database to the Department of Health; it reported no patient history reports in 2011. Missouri uses the Department of Health and Senior Services; the report did not include information about patient history reports.

Texas’ PDMP database is under the State Board of Pharmacy; in 2011, there were 47,752 patient history reports.

In Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, law enforcement has access to the database. Information was not available for whether that is so in Missouri or not.

In the Utah case, “U.S. District Judge David Nuffer decided last month that database queries don't violate laws against unreasonable search and seizure because the prescription drugs are already tightly controlled,” according to the AP.

"’Prescription drugs are a highly regulated industry in which patients and doctors do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy,’ he wrote in the ruling handed down last month.”

Meranto said, “It seems like it’s not being used for good. Why the heck doesn’t it get used for something good, like if a person were jailed authorities could find out their important prescription information to give the same care as they were getting outside.”

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – August 22, 2017 @ 3 p.m. CDT.