The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott tells Congress that hackers cracked Virginia's prescription-drug database -- is he right?

18

April

Gov. Rick Scott appeared before Congress on Thursday to testify about the state's problem fighting prescription drug abuse and the proliferation of so-called "pill mills."

One way Florida is hoping to combat the over-prescribing of pain medications like oxycodone, Scott said, is by implementing a statewide drug database that will track prescriptions that pharmacists fill for patients. The hope is that law enforcement officials can spot doctors who are prescribing too many drugs, or patients who are hopping from doctor to doctor satisfy their fix.

Scott initially opposed the database, saying he was concerned about the privacy rights of law-abiding patients. But his position put him at odds with leaders in the state Senate, whose support would have been required to nix the database. So the database is moving moving forward.

In his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Scott repeated concerns about the privacy issues in such a system. He then highlighted a story about Virginia's prescription drug database to help make his point.

"As the database implementation moves forward, I must draw your attention to a serious risk that I believe databases like this pose to the privacy of individuals – most of whom are law-abiding individuals," Scott said, according to his prepared remarks. "As you know, in 2009 the Associated Press reported a massive privacy breach when hackers broke into Virginia’s prescription-drug database. They obtained more than 8.2 million patient records and a total of nearly 36 million prescriptions."

We wanted to know if hackers did indeed break into Virginia's database, and if they obtained 8.2 million patient records. Read how his story checks out with the Truth-O-Meter.

[Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2011 3:15pm]

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