North Carolina sheriffs want access to state computer records that identify people with prescriptions for certain drugs, an idea that patient advocates oppose.
The state sheriff's association proposed the idea Tuesday to a legislative health care committee, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. The sheriffs said they want access to state computer records identifying anyone with prescriptions for powerful painkillers and other controlled substances.
"We can better go after those who are abusing the system," said Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter.
More people in their counties die of accidental overdoses than from homicides, the sheriffs said.
The state began a computer database in 2007 to help doctors identify patients who go from doctor to doctor looking for
prescription drugs they may not need and to keep pharmacists from supplying patients with too many pills.
Nearly 30 percent of state residents received at least one prescription for a controlled substance in the first six months of 2010, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 2.5 million people filled prescriptions in that time for more than 375 million doses. The database has about 53.5 million prescriptions in it.
About 20 percent of the state's doctors have registered to use the information, and 10 percent of the pharmacies are registered.
Patient advocates say they're concerned about privacy issues for people in pain.
"I don't feel that I should have to sign away my privacy rights just because I take an opioid under doctor's care," said Candy Pitcher of Cary, who volunteers for the nonprofit American Pain Foundation.
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