ACLU can in­ter­vene in Utah drug data­base ac­cess law­suit

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Erica Te­ichert

A fed­eral judge in Utah ruled that the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union could in­ter­vene in the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s at­tempt to sift through Utah’s pre­scrip­tion drug data­base with­out ob­tain­ing a search war­rant. Un­der Utah law, en­force­ment agen­cies need a war­rant—not a sub­poena, as the DEA has re­quested— be­fore they can search the sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion.

The DEA had op­posed the ACLU’s re­quest to in­ter­vene in the case, say­ing it would in­ter­fere with its on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a Utah physi­cian who may be fun­nel­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs to or­ga­nized crime. The judge will only al­low the ACLU to weigh in on the war­rant is­sue but the ACLU is sat­is­fied with that lim­i­ta­tion.

Utah’s data­base in­cludes 70 mil­lion pre­scrip­tion records, and the DEA claimed in court that this rul­ing is the first to let an un­af­fil­i­ated party in­ter­vene in an in­ves­tiga­tive sub­poena ac­tion.

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