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Judges order pharmacy board to respond to subpoena

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A Marion Superior trial court erred in granting the Indiana Board of Pharmacy’s motion to quash a defendant’s subpoena that the board produce a certified copy of “any and all” of his prescription records so he could use the information as defense for the charges of possession of a controlled substance, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.  

On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals found that Nicholas Williams waived any physician- or pharmacist-patient privilege outlined in Indiana Code when he requested the records from the pharmacy board. Williams was arrested and charged with possessing the controlled substances methadone and alprazolam. He originally couldn’t recall what doctors had prescribed the drugs, so he asked for the data kept in the pharmacy board’s electronic drug tracking program INSPECT RX. He later could recall the doctor names but not where he filled the prescriptions.

The Indiana Board of Pharmacy cited the confidentiality components of Indiana Code 35-48-7-11.1 to deny Williams’ request and support its motion to quash his request. The COA noted that the statute does not list the patient as someone specifically authorized to receive the information from the INSPECT RX database.

“To the extent that the confidential information in the database might also be considered privileged, by virtue of either the physician-patient privilege or the pharmacist-patient privilege, that privilege inures to the patient, not the Board (or the physician or the pharmacist, for that matter),” wrote Judge Terry Crone in Nicholas Williams v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1103-CR-266.

Williams’ request for information from the database amounts to a waiver of any privilege, so the judges found that the three-part test for discoverability – particularity, relevance or materiality and “paramount interest” – applies in this case.

His request was sufficiently particular, the request information is material to his defense, not all of the information requested would be available from his doctors, and the board failed to show a paramount interest in not disclosing the information, ruled the appellate court.

The judges remanded for further proceedings.

 

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