The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking to block the Drug Enforcement Administration from obtaining prescription records without a warrant in Oregon.


The state of Oregon filed suit against the DEA last year after the agency sought to access the Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), a database of prescription records for certain drugs. The ACLU and its Oregon affiliate hope to join the lawsuit on behalf of patients and doctors.

“Oregon law and the U.S. Constitution clearly require the DEA to get a warrant just like any other law enforcement agency,” David Fidanque of the ACLU of Oregon said. “The ACLU opposed the creation of the Oregon prescription database precisely because we were concerned about protecting the privacy of patients and doctors who have done nothing wrong. The Legislature agreed to add the search warrant requirement to partially address that concern.”

The DEA issued an administrative subpoena to the PDMP in 2012, requesting documents related to a specific doctor. Officials in Oregon refused to comply with the DEA’s subpoena because such access requires a warrant under state law. But the state was later forced to comply with the subpoena after a brief court battle. The DEA claimed Oregon's law was preempted by federal law.

The state of Oregon sued the DEA in November 2012 in federal court to defend its restrictions on law enforcement access.

In seeking to join the lawsuit on Saturday, the ACLU said the DEA's actions violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The group argued that patients and physicians in Oregon have a "reasonable expectations of privacy in their prescription records," and were protected from unreasonable searches.

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