State takes action on prescription privacy

Bob Segall/13 Investigates

Earlier this year, 13 Investigates showed you how some local pharmacies are tossing your personal information into unsecured garbage. Now the state is launching its own investigation.

State regulators want to know why pharmacies aren't taking better care of your personal information. Local drug stores have some explaining to do.

This summer, 13 Investigates found dozens of local pharmacies trashed their customers' privacy. In fact, we found local drug stores simply tossed out personal health information about hundreds of people. In some cases, we found pharmacies continued to do it even after we showed them the problem.

"In this situation it's pretty clear we had information that was in areas where it's easily accessible and that's a blatant violation and we're moving forward accordingly," said Marty Allain, Indiana Pharmacy Board.

On Thursday, the Indiana Board of Pharmacy announced it is targeting 30 pharmacies for a state investigation. "We filed consumer complaints against all of the pharmacies that were part of your report and there is an investigation ongoing right now with the attorney general's office with regard to those complaints," Allain said.

The attorney general's office says it cannot comment on an ongoing investigation but the attorney general is making no secret. He's not pleased that pharmacies are throwing patients personal information into the trash. "I think it's very disgusting to see that private information of citizens was not taken better care of," said Steve Carter, attorney general.

Carter says throwing patient information into open dumpsters can lead to identity theft and other crime, and he says that's why state regulators are taking the issue so seriously.

"I think this highlights a problem in our state that needs to be addressed. It looks like it's a pervasive problem. We're going to apply any laws in the state that can be applied to protect citizens' privacy," Carter said.

Both the Pharmacy Board and Attorney General say it seems clear that pharmacies did violate state law. If the state investigation confirms that, regulators could impose fines or other penalties against many local drug stores.

Federal regulators say they are considering a separate investigation because failing to protect patient's healthcare information is also a violation of federal law.

Prescription Privacy