Pharmacies Sharing Medical Data Without Permission?

Photo by Roberto Sorin on Unsplash

( – A new congressional probe has found that law enforcement agencies have accessed patient prescription records through pharmacies without having the necessary warrants.

Senate Finance Committee chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Democratic Reps. Sara Jacobs (Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) have recently informed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of their findings as the majority of Americans are unaware that their information is being handed over to authorities.

In a letter to HHS, the lawmakers pointed out that the discovery was made following several briefings with major pharmacies where it was noted that law enforcement agencies had secretly had pharmacies provide them with the prescription records of thousands of U.S. citizens without the necessary warrant. As they stated a lot of these sensitive medical records are handed over without a legal professional reviewing them.

While pharmacies have legal permission to inform their customers when they hand over their data to the government, the majority do not inform them. Prescription records do not have a lot of privacy protections, and the protections they do have widely depend on each individual pharmacy. Lawmakers surveyed Amazon Pharmacy, Cigna, CVS Health, Optum Rx, Rite Aid Corp., The Kroger Co., Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Walmart Stores Inc. Out of all of these, only Amazon Pharmacy confirmed that as part of their policies, they always informed customers when their records were requested by law enforcement.

All of the companies stated that they had no requirement for a warrant before giving law enforcement agencies the pharmacy records requested. In their letter, lawmakers also pointed out that the records were given in response to a “mere subpoena.”

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