New York, NY – Below is a statement from Lindsay LaSalle, Director of Public Health Law and Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, in response to a new rule proposed by the federal government—more specifically the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—that would scrap patient confidentiality requirements and expose medication-assisted treatment (MAT) patients to criminal investigations, even when they themselves are not suspected of a crime.
“We are in the midst of an overdose crisis right now that claimed nearly 70,000 lives in the U.S. alone last year. We need to focus on preventing further deaths by making it easier, not harder, for people to access medication-assisted treatment,” said Lindsay LaSalle, Director of Public Health Law and Policy, Drug Policy Alliance. “Turning over patient’s medical records to law enforcement, even when they are not suspected of a crime, is completely unethical. Steps like this erode trust between patients and providers and may discourage people from seeking care altogether. This is just the latest example of how people who use drugs are criminalized, even when trying to get help.”