Utah won’t appeal ruling giving DEA access to drug database

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office will not appeal a federal judge’s ruling giving the Drug Enforcement Administration access to the state’s controlled substances database.

In a statement to FOX 13, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’s office confirmed it would not appeal the decision made last month. However, the state also indicated it would not be allowing others to have unlimited access to the database that tracks prescription drugs for controlled substances like opioids.

Read the Utah Attorney General’s statement here:

“This decision was made after a careful evaluation of the Judge’s decision and the existing case law. While we disagree with the Judge’s determination about the level of privacy the citizens of Utah should expect when it comes to information in the Controlled Substance Database, the court’s decision is limited to the DEA’s exercise of its administrative subpoena power – Utah’s law will continue to require other nonfederal law enforcement to obtain a warrant prior to gaining access to the database. Our office has already begun the process of working with the Department of Commerce, the Legislature and the DEA to ensure patients’ records will continue to be carefully protected. The State feels strongly that while it is important that law enforcement have access to necessary tools to fight the illicit use of prescription drugs in the fight against the opioid epidemic, it is critical that individuals privacy and constitutional rights be protected from violation or abuse.”

FOX 13 first reported last year the DEA sued the state to get access to the controlled substances database as it conducted an investigation into an unnamed medical professional accused of selling prescription drugs. The state said it would not comply with the subpoena, but would comply with a warrant.

The ACLU, Unified Firefighters and Equality Utah joined the lawsuit, arguing patient privacy rights.