Brandes continues to champion privacy rights, this time on prescription drug data

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State Sen. Jeff Brandes has been a staunch advocate of privacy rights, co-introducing a bill to limit the use of drones by law enforcement, and attempting to limit the ability for cell phones to be searched during routine arrests.

 Thursday, Brandes added to this list his concern over the recent release of about 3,000 records from Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that were issued without patient notification or consent, and penned a letter to Florida Department of Health Surgeon General John Armstrong urging communication between the agency and the legislature in the handling of this matter.

Specifically, Brandes requested that as DOH conducts its investigation in the matter it provide findings to the Legislature so that lawmakers may review statute or seek remedy should it be necessary.

“While I acknowledge that Florida law permits the release of records involved in an active investigation, I am concerned about this release of private health records and the precedent that it may establish,” Brandes wrote. ” Therefore i ask the Department to also provide to the Legislature any plans or policies that ensure such a release of private records does not happen without proper cause and without attention to preserving the privacy rights of patients.”

Brandes articulates the “careful balance” between public policy that protects privacy and policies that give law enforcement the tools they need to prevent prescription drug abuse — a balance that has become increasingly challenging to strike.