Your pharmacy records are not confidential and not protected from law enforcement subpoenas. Cops can walk into your pharmacy and obtain your records without any notice to you. This is an alarming example of legislators’ efforts at doing away with the Fourth Amendment.
A recent case has held that detectives are not required to procure a search warrant or subpoena prior to obtaining controlled substance records from pharmacies. The statute requiring pharmacists to maintain controlled substance records, including prescription records, and to make records available for inspection and copying by law enforcement officers, was found to NOT violate constitutional privacy provisions of Florida Constitution.
The defendant Tamulonis’s records were obtained pursuant to chapter 893 (Florida’s drug control and crimes chapter). Section 893.07(4) requires pharmacists to maintain controlled substance records, including prescription records, and to make the records “available for a period of at least 2 years for inspection and copying by law enforcement officers whose duty it is to enforce the laws of this state relating to controlled substances.”
In this case, the detective testified that he was assigned to a unit that investigates illegal prescriptions. He stated that he received information from another detective that Tamulonis was involved in a pattern of “doctor shopping.” The detective contacted various pharmacies and obtained Tamulonis’s patient profiles, which are “computer printouts that show the date, the prescription medication, and the doctor who prescribed it.” Based on the patient profiles, the detective determined that Tamulonis had visited multiple doctors within a thirty-day period and had obtained prescriptions for oxycodone and Oxycontin. The detective obtained Tamulonis’s prescriptions and showed them to the doctors. The doctors stated that when they wrote the prescriptions, they were unaware that Tamulonis had received prescriptions for similar medications from other doctors. She was then arrested and charged.
The trial court had originally granted a motion to suppress; the State aopealed, and the Second District Court of Appeal reversed and has now allowed the prosecution for obtaining a controlled substance by fraud (predicated on “doctor shopping”) to continue. Tamulonis will now have to go back to court and likely enter a plea.
This is a slippery slope. I foresee this leading to witch hunts for any type of “crime”, predicated upon law enforcement’s unbridled ability to obtain pharmacy records without subpoena (obtained through the State Attorney) or search warrant – which means without probable cause. That the cops can peruse our pharmacy records without telling us or the courts is Orwellian and, quite frankly, scary. That is how they do it in Russia, Cuba, and all the other places where there is no constitution protecting the people. What is to stop law enforcement from prying into confidential records and gaining personal information that has NOTHING to do with ANY crime? Apparently nothing.
The Florida legislature must re-write this statute to require a subpoena or search warrant, and advance notice to the patient. in fact, this case even says that the law is as the legislature intended it. However, At this rate, it wouldn’t surprise me if they drafted a law saying the police can enter your car or home without a warrant. . .
The case: STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellant, v. LORI TAMULONIS, Appellee.