PROVIDENCE, R.I. — More than 20 organizations, including the Rhode Island Medical Society, have launched a public campaign to convince Governor Raimondo to veto legislation to allow warrantless searches of otherwise confidential information on the state’s electronic prescription database.
Raimondo has not yet stated publicly what she intends to do with the legislation, which was introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick; and in the Senate by Sen. William Conley, D-East Providence. The governor has until Wednesday to sign, veto or allow the legislation to become law without her signature.
The proposed law would give state and federal investigators access to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which contains information on every prescription for a controlled substance dispensed by Rhode Island pharmacies — from highly addictive prescription opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin, to stimulants such as Adderall, anti-anxiety drugs, common pain killers and cough suppressants with codeine.
The database allows health officials to track prescribing patterns as a way to identify possible over-prescribing and abuse.
“We are concerned that these bills, if signed into law, may drive patients ‘underground’ and away from the care that they need and have the unintended effect of increasing the number of overdoses,” Rhode Island Medical Society President Sarah J. Fessler wrote the governor.
“Our Department of Health already has the data and the authority to detect potential prescription drug diversion,” Fessler said. “Judicial review should remain the standard by which police gain access to such sensitive information.”
Echoed Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island: “This bill strikes at the heart of doctor-patient confidentiality and undermines the public’s faith in our state Department of Health to be a protector of the deeply…