DEA pharmacy subpoena not overbroad and HIPAA exempt

John Wesley Hall reports on two court rulings out of Texas concerning the same case: United States v. Zadeh. From the court’s opinion in one of the cases:

In this case, it is clear that the information sought by the DEA is relevant to its investigation, but the question is whether the use of an administrative subpoena to obtain the information sought is reasonable. After thoroughly reviewing the case law set forth above, the Court finds the reasoning set forth in Colorado Board of Pharmacy—holding that properly authorized DEA subpoenas of confidential state pharmacy records in a federal investigation of possible CSA violations by three physicians were per se reasonable, and thus, passed Fourth Amendment muster—more persuasive than the analysis in Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. To begin with, as noted by the Court in Acklen, 690 F.2d at 75, the pharmaceutical industry is a “pervasively regulated industry” and “virtually every phase of the drug industry is heavily regulated, from packaging, labeling, and certification of expiration dates.” Jamieson-McKames Pharm., Inc., 651 F.2d at 537. While the cases discussed above mainly dealt with pharmacies and pharmacists, the Court concludes that such analysis can easily be applied to physicians, and in turn, their patients. Both have a reduced expectation of privacy in the medical records regarding controlled substances as such records are relevant to the issue of whether there has been compliance with the CSA, a federal law that regulates controlled substances.

Read more on FourthAmendment.com. It continues to disturb me that as patients, we have (and are we supposed to know we have?) a reduced expectation of privacy in our medical records if they involve controlled substances.

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