The Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) was passed in 2009 over the ACLU’s strong objection and set up a mechanism for the government to collect, store, and track information about Oregonians’ prescription drug records for Schedules II, III, and IV drugs.

The ACLU has always believed that information we provide in exchange for a specific purpose, service or benefit should only be used for that purpose unless we consent to an additional use of our personal information. Any data collected, maintained and stored by the government, especially data about our private medical history should be as secure as possible and access to the data strictly limited.

Counter to these values, SB 470 was introduced this session with a long list of provisions to expand the program – both in the number of entities with access to the data collected and the scope of information collected.

Currently, the State of Oregon is involved in litigation with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), where the State is challenging the DEA’s practice of obtaining private medical data from our PDMP without a warrant based on probable cause (a threshold of suspicion that must be met, according to Oregon state law, before law enforcement may access the data). The ACLU has intervened in this lawsuit in order to argue important issues of privacy. Particularly in light of this ongoing litigation, we argued to the Legislature that this session was the wrong time to undertake any expansion of the PDMP.

SB 470 proposed to collect and store more information about patients and their prescriptions, including sex, prescription number, number of days for which the drug was dispenses, number of refills authorized, and the source of payment from the patient. Our opposition resulted in changes to the bill to remove “source of payment” from the list of information collected and collection of sex to be reported only on an anonymous basis to be used as aggregate data for research purposes only.

SB 470 also proposed to share access to the PDMP database with more parties, including doctors in neighboring states, additional staff in doctors’ and pharmacists’ offices, and to all of a patient’s doctors and pharmacists on a new “alert system” to flag multiple prescriptions of the same drug or potentially dangerous interactions between different drugs. Further, the bill would have delegated authority to the Board of Pharmacy to add any additional prescription drug to the list of those tracked by the PDMP (current law limits the program to Schedules II, III, and IV drugs).

On the Senate side, our advocacy yielded only modest changes to the bill and 8 senators joined our opposition by voting “no” on the bill.

On the House side, Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) was receptive to our concerns, to a degree, and though he did not prevent the bill from moving forward he did work with us to remove some of the most dangerous provisions of the bill. Rep. Greenlick’s House Committee on Health Care removed the Board of Pharmacy authorization to add any new prescription drug and also removed the “alert system” provisions. We expect that both concepts will return in a future session.

Vote: 22-8 Senate SCORECARD VOTE
56-2-2 House
29-1 Senate concurrence