Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government’s files. This does not completely rule out prescription drug use, including samples from a physician, drugs obtained through illegal Internet sources, or a gap in the federal database, but the sources say theirs is a reasonably complete search.
A gap in the what? Since when is there a federal database of drug prescriptions?
Since two years ago, looks like, and it’s not technically a federal database. In July of 2005, Congress passed the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act of 2005, and it was signed into law by Bush a couple of weeks later.
This authorizes grants to the states for prescription drug databases,
in order to ensure that health care providers have access to the accurate, timely prescription history information that they may use as a tool for the early identification of patients at risk for addiction in order to initiate appropriate medical interventions and avert the tragic personal, family, and community consequences of untreated addiction
Which sounds okay at fir— well, no, it actually sounds creepy right off the bat. If they’d said it was to help prevent bad drug interactions, that would sound okay to me. An obsession with other people’s addictions strikes me as overbearing nanny-state behavior.
Anyway, scrolling down to the section on “Use and Disclosure of Information”, we see that among the people authorized to check out your prescription drug history are:
any local, State, or Federal law enforcement, narcotics control, licensure, disciplinary, or program authority, who certifies, under the procedures determined by the State, that the requested information is related to an individual investigation or proceeding involving the unlawful diversion or misuse of a schedule II, III, or IV substance, and such information will further the purpose of the investigation or assist in the proceeding;
…as well as:
any agent of the Department of Health and Human Services, a State medicaid program, a State health department, or the Drug Enforcement Administration who certifies that the requested information is necessary for research to be conducted by such department, program, or administration, respectively, and the intended purpose of the research is related to a function committed to such department, program, or administration by law that is not investigative in nature;
…and a few other people as well.
So, no federal database, just fifty-one state databases that the feds and state and local governments can go browsing through every time they decide you’ve done something bad.
(And thanks to Dvd Avins for bringing this to my attention.)