Most people understand that the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means the police and other law enforcement agencies in Florida cannot search our homes, vehicles, etc. and seize our property without consent, a search warrant or emergent circumstances. However, the law is different regarding controlled substance records at pharmacies.
Florida law says that pharmacies are required to maintain drug records for at least two years. Pharmacies are also required by Florida law to make those controlled substance records available to law enforcement officers without the need for a search warrant, subpoena or other court order. Additionally, the police can obtain controlled substance records from pharmacies without notice to the patient from either law enforcement or the pharmacy. In other words, police in Florida are permitted to go to your pharmacy and obtain your controlled substance prescription records without a warrant and without you knowing about it.
This primarily comes up in two types of cases. Obtaining prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin, by fraud is becoming more prevalent these days as we have pointed out on this blog in the past. Doctor shopping, where a patient may go to several doctors to get the same or similar prescriptions, is also fairly common. When the police investigate such crimes, they may go to the pharmacy for a suspect’s records. Florida law allows them to obtain such information more easily than other evidence in other types of crimes.