Can your DNA be used against you?

4. Riding in a car with my cousin, some cops pull us over and wants to search the car. We were young and just assumed they could do that…

Valutsky told them there had been a string of car break-ins recently in the area. Then, after questioning them some more, he made an unexpected demand: He asked which one of them wanted to give him a DNA sample.

After a long pause, Adam, a slight 15-year-old with curly hair and braces, said, “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.” Valutsky showed Adam how to rub a long cotton swab around the inside of his cheek, then gave him a consent form to sign and took his thumbprint. He sealed Adam’s swab in an envelope. Then he let the boys go.

Telling the story later, Adam would say of the officer’s request, “I thought it meant we had to.” …

Private DNA databases have multiplied as testing technology has become more sophisticated and sensitive, enabling labs to generate profiles from so-called “touch” or “trace” DNA consisting of as little as a few skin cells. Automated “Rapid DNA” machines allow police to analyze DNA right at the station in a mere 90 minutes. Some states allow “familial searching” of databases, which can identify people with samples from family members. New software can even create composite mugshots of suspects using DNA to guess at skin and eye color.

Strict rules govern which DNA samples are added to the FBI’s national database, but they don’t apply to the police departments’ private databases, which are subject to no state or federal regulation or oversight…

In 2012, New York became the first state to require DNA collection from those convicted of any crime, not just violent ones, and at least 29 states now authorize collection from anyone arrested for certain crimes…

Blackledge said building a private database also allowed the city to collect more DNA from juveniles…

Since 2007, the District Attorney’s office in Orange County, California, has offered certain non-violent offenders the chance to have their charges dismissed in exchange for contributing cheek swabs to a special separate DNA database — a “spit and acquit” program, as the local media nicknamed it. As of mid-August, according to the DA’s office, over 145,000 people had voluntarily donated their DNA to this database…

Police in Branford, Connecticut, draw a different line in collecting DNA. They’re instructed to request DNA from people they merely observe acting inexplicably or strangely…

West Melbourne police say they’ve collected “abandoned DNA” from chewing gum or cigarette butts left by people who refused to sign consent forms…

Under comments:

bdaly • 3 days ago
Has anyone considered how much medical info your DNA has? Imagine the damage that could be done to you if that info were to fall into the hands of insurance companies or potential employers. It’s not like these databases are unhackable.

Genetic discrimination occurs if people are treated unfairly because of differences in their DNA that increase their chances of getting a certain disease. For example, a health insurer might refuse to give coverage to a woman who has a DNA difference that raises her odds of getting breast cancer. Employers also could use DNA information to decide whether to hire or fire workers.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, also referred to as GINA, is a new federal law that protects Americans from being treated unfairly because of differences in their DNA that may affect their health. The new law prevents discrimination from health insurers and employers. The President signed the act into federal law on May 21, 2008. The parts of the law relating to health insurers will take effect by May 2009, and those relating to employers will take effect by November 2009.

The law protects people from discrimination by health insurers and employers on the basis of DNA information. The law does not cover life insurance, disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

American police have for the first time used a marijuana breathalyzer to evaluate impaired drivers, the company behind the pioneering device declared Tuesday, saying it separately confirmed its breath test can detect recent consumption of marijuana-infused food. The two apparent firsts allow Hound Labs to move forward with plans to widely distribute its technology to law enforcement in the first half of next year, says CEO Mike Lynn…

Though breathalyzers are familiar roadside tools, there are other options for officers looking to rapidly test a person for marijuana or other drugs, including increasingly accepted roadside oral fluid tests or — potentially early next year — a futuristic fingerprint-sweat test.

Dr. Paul Yates, a forensic scientist and business development director at U.K.-based Intelligent Fingerprinting, says the sweat-test devices — which can be calibrated to specific thresholds for marijuana and other types of drugs including cocaine and opiates — can indicate drug use in near-term windows…

Duffy Nabors, vice president for sales and marketing at Smartox, says the company has received inquiries from law enforcement departments in California, Colorado and Texas interested in roadside use of the metabolite test, and he expects law enforcement will be among the first American buyers…

The DrugTest 5000 — one of a handful of similar products — indicates if marijuana or other types of drugs are present in a suspect’s saliva. The company counts the New York Police Department, the Nevada Highway Patrol and Oklahoma tribal police among its customers.

Shaffer says the test detects THC in a user’s saliva for roughly 2-6 hours after they consumed the drug, though a heavy user once tested positive 24 hours later. The test only indicates the presence of THC and does not quantify the amount, though like the Intelligent Fingerprinting technology can be calibrated to a specific threshold…

Now, if you’ve read all of the above information, how do you feel about this:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will enlist federal prosecutors to help fight the nation’s opioid crisis by sharing information on overprescribing doctors and coordinating with public health officials to address addiction, USA Today reported on Friday…

Lynch said sharing information about physicians tied to prescription drug abuse could help authorities better identify drug traffickers and the routes they use, the report said, adding that working with local health officials will help give equal attention to prevention and treatment efforts…

She said the department would issue the new plan next week in a memo to its 94 U.S. attorney offices…

Tell me, how are federal attorneys going to “work” with local health officials in regards to prevention and treatment efforts? What do attorneys and the justice system have to do with addiction and health care? Are the attorneys going to give patients free legal advice?

To me, this little tidbit of information from Attorney General Loretta Lynch has to do with the PDMPs. There’s been a push to connect all state databases into a federal database that’s accessible across state lines. Like the FBI has a national database for DNA. “Coordinating with public health officials” might mean that U.S. attorneys are going to require states (doctors, government employees, pharmacists) to input the information into the PDMPs, making their use mandatory.

What does this mean for chronic and intractable pain patients? Looks like the federal government has taken the criminalization of opioids to the next level. Perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s Office is getting tired of waiting for the DEA to make a difference.

If you have a DNA test, make sure you read the release forms. Don’t sign a form that says the lab can share or sell your DNA information, and make sure you see HIPAA language. I’m not saying these things will protect you, but that’s all we’ve got.

Someday in the not-so-distant future, before your health care provider decides which medication to prescribe for your fibromyalgia symptoms, they might first swab your cheek for a few cells and send them off for genetic tests. The genetic data hidden in those cells might reveal which medications you are likely to get benefit from, and which to avoid due to higher chance of side effects.

It sounds futuristic, but in fact this technology is available now, though it has not been widely adopted by medical providers. Testing for a person’s gene-drug interactions is called “pharmacogenetics,” and is a rapidly expanding field with multiple companies now offering panels of tests targeted to different illnesses…

Privacy is a thing of the past, better get used to it

But default on your car payment, and you can expect to have your car repossessed almost immediately. How is this possible? In a word, technology. The modern repo man uses a number of devices to find, track, disable and reclaim automobiles:

Subprime loan underwriters often require borrowers to have their cars equipped with a device that allows the lender to remotely disable the ignition. GPS technology in the devices also lets a lender track a cars’ location and movements. Knowing where the vehicle is, and being able to remotely disable it, makes repossession a snap.

Photographs are taken of “millions of plates a day, with scanners mounted on tow trucks and even on purpose-built camera cars whose sole mission is to drive around and collect plate scans. Each scan is GPS-tagged and stamped with the date and time, feeding a massive data trove to any law-enforcement agency—or government-approved private industry—willing to pay for it” according to Car & Driver magazine. The license-plate acquisition system called Vigilant, adds 100 million photos a month.

License-plate-readers, or LPRs as they are known, are now commonly found at mall entrances, mounted on utility poles, parking lots, toll plazas, and at major highway entrances. According to the site Consumerist, the database of scanned license plates contains “over a billion sightings of individual cars ready for companies to mine.” One company, MVTRAC, has 8,000 fixed cameras, and many more mobile cameras mounted on vehicles, constantly scanning plates.

Some repo companies are using drones to track vehicles and repossess cars; they also can track drivers via their own mobile phones…

This isn’t the first sign of the death of our privacy. HIPAA is a joke and our medical records are passed around like after-dinner mints. And it goes without saying that these technologies are easily abused and hacked into — not only by the government, but also by insurance companies and individuals looking to cause personal harm.

I’m sure some people think, well, I have nothing to hide. And if we can catch terrorists, then a loss of privacy isn’t a big deal.

Until these technologies are used to discriminate against you…

Disqualified after concussions, college football players recruited back onto the field

But where Syracuse officials saw grave risk, other colleges saw opportunity. Coaches from a half-dozen other universities began wooing Long. His case is not unique. College football players with a history of incapacitating concussions are allowed to transfer to colleges that will permit them to play, a STAT investigation has found. This happens even after doctors at one school determine that the risk to a player’s health is so severe that he should be permanently banned from contact sports…

The National Collegiate Athletic Association sets no limits on the number of permissible concussions. There’s no medical consensus on how many concussions pose an intolerable danger to athletes. And colleges, ever on the lookout for talent that will reap their teams wins and ticket sales, decide on their own when, or if, players should be medically disqualified.

In interviews with doctors and college officials, STAT found cases in which some players were permanently sidelined after three or four concussions, while others with as many as 10 concussions were allowed to still play…

Once college athletes are disqualified, they receive little guidance about what to do. Young men like the 19-year-old Long are left on their own to seek additional tests and evaluations by concussion experts — and to choose whether pursuing their dream of playing college football is worth jeopardizing their health…

Psychology Practice Revealed Patients’ Mental Disorders in Debt Lawsuits

The greatest fear of many patients receiving therapy services is that somehow the details of their private struggles will be revealed publicly…

Short Hills Associates in Clinical Psychology, the group based in New Jersey that treated Philip, has filed dozens of collections lawsuits against patients and included in them their names, diagnoses and listings of their treatments.

In cases in which the patients were minors, the practice sued their parents and included the children’s names and diagnoses.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA, allows health providers to sue patients over unpaid debts, but requires that they disclose only the minimum information necessary to pursue them.

Still, the law has many loopholes, which ProPublica has been exploring in a series of articles this year. One is that HIPAA covers only providers who submit data electronically — and apparently Short Hills Associates does not…

The FDA’s response re: annual limit on decongestants

Mon, Nov 23, 2015 12:11 am
RE: Annual limit on decongestants
From: DRUGINFO@fda.hhs.govhide details

Dear Johnna Stahl,

Thank you for writing the Division of Drug Information, in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), regarding the legal limit for pseudoephedrine-containing products.

As you may already be aware, the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine is subject to limitation under the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (CMEA). This Act was passed to control the distribution and sale of drug products that may be used to illicitly produce methamphetamine.

These legal requirements restrict over-the-counter sales of products containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine (PPA) and are enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), not the FDA. For further information regarding CMEA, please visit For information on registration, enforcement, and policy, please visit DEA’s website at

The law limits the amount of pseudoephedrine that may be purchased per transaction and per month; no more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine per month, and no more than 3.6 grams per transaction may be purchased. The table below describes how much pseudoephedrine may be purchased based upon the strength of the drug.

The CMEA, as well as numerous state and local laws, require retailers of products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to capture customer data at the point of sale. In order to help track the purchases of pseudoephedrine, most states utilizes the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx). NPLEx offers a real-time electronic tracking service, free of charge, to law enforcement and state governments. Please be advised that only pharmacies and law enforcement have access to NPLEx. During the application process for access to the system, the registrant is asked to provide verification of either pharmacy or law enforcement status.

The pharmacy scans a government identification or enters the data into the secure MethCheck portal. The information is transmitted instantly to the database where it is available for review by law enforcement. The NPLEx tool, MethCheck, is entirely web-based, with no servers, software, or hardware. The data is housed at the Appriss data center, subject to annual FBI audit, and under tight security policies that include independent security testing and HIPAA compliance. Appriss is also the disaster recovery site for the National Law Enforcement Recovery System (NLETS).

I assume this database is run by the DEA, through state and local law enforcement?

FDA does not have or maintain a database of purchase history. However, you may use the NPLEx website (via to get a summary of the purchase history tied to your identification. You will need to enter the transaction ID from the denied sale and your last name. Please be advised that the FDA does not endorse any of the information contained on non-government websites.

Why would there be a transaction ID from the denied sale? Was the Walmart pharmacy employee supposed to give me a receipt that said I was denied?

Please note that some states do not participate in the above NPLEX system. Please contact your state Board of Pharmacy to determine if they participate in the NPLEX system or for assistance with your purchase denial if your state does not participate in the NPLEX system. Please be aware that some states already have regulations controlling the sale of products containing these ingredients. In instances in which state and federal guidelines conflict, stores are to follow the more stringent of the two. To learn your state requirements, please contact your state board of pharmacy, available through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at

I can’t find specific information on decongestants on the NABP website, and I’m still waiting to hear back from the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy. (Actually, I’m not really waiting, as I don’t think I’ll ever hear from them again.)

Lastly, although the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (CMEA) restricts the over-the-counter (OTC) sales of products containing pseudoephedrine, your physician can still write a prescription for pseudoephedrine that will allow you to obtain greater amounts than the maximum OTC amounts allowed by the CMEA. The pharmacist would enter the prescription into the computer as if it were a prescription drug (meeting the regulation for logging/signing a record book), and the product would be purchased at the register, like paying for any prescription medication. Please note that this action would fall under the practice of medicine and is not regulated by the DEA or FDA.

Sure, pay for a doctor appointment and a prescription. Perhaps you can understand why I choose to just pay for over-the-counter allergy medicine? Of course, with all these regulations, Claritin-D is not really an OTC medicine anymore, is it?

Best regards,

Division of Drug Information
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Food and Drug Administration

For up-to-date drug information, follow the FDA’s Division of Drug Information on Twitter:

This communication is consistent with 21 CFR 10.85(k) and constitutes an informal communication that represents our best judgment at this time but does not constitute an advisory opinion, does not necessarily represent the formal position of the FDA, and does not bind or otherwise obligate or commit the agency to the views expressed.

Who would have thought that it would be this hard to buy allergy medicine? And when the beginning of the year rolls around, will I cave in and buy more Claritin-D?  (Achoooooooo!)

Rights for pain patients in New Mexico

Database of Statutes, Regulations, & Other Policies for Pain Management

New Mexico Pain Relief Act

D. “chronic pain” means pain that persists after reasonable medical efforts have been made to relieve the pain or its cause and that continues, either continuously or episodically, for longer than three consecutive months. “Chronic pain” does not include pain associated with a terminal condition or with a progressive disease that, in the normal course of progression, may reasonably be expected to result in a terminal condition;

As a recipient of Federal financial assistance, the University of New Mexico Hospitals does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the ground of race, color, or national origin, or on the basis of disabiilty or age in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits under any of its programs and activities, whether carried out by the University of New Mexico Hospitals directly or through a contractor or any other entity which the University of New Mexico Hospitals arranges to carry out its programs and activities.

You Have the Right to Be Treated in These Ways

– Have your pain assessed, and treated.

To not be excluded, denied benefits, or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, religion, cultural beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or age, in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits under any of its programs and activities, whether carried out by Presbyterian Healthcare Services directly or through a contractor or any other entity with which Presbyterian Healthcare Services arranges to carry out its programs and activities.

To receive information about pain management, when applicable, and to have your pain recognized and managed as effectively as possible;

New Mexico Department of Health, Client/Patient Bill of Rights

Right to receive care without discrimination as to your race, creed, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, country of origin, or source of payment.

Derechos de los pacientes/client, Departamento de Salud de Nuevo M

El derecho a recibir cuidados sin discriminar su raza, credo, sexo, orientación sexual, religión, edad, discapacidad, país de origen o fuente de pago.


New Mexico Board of Pharmacy, Pharmacy Patient’s Bill of Rights

9. The patient has the right to file a complaint with the New Mexico State Board of

When you receive mental health services on an in-patient or out-patient basis, you have the same rights under the United States Constitution as any other citizen. In additional to your constitutional rights, New Mexico law guarantees the rights described in this booklet. Some of these rights can be limited or taken away, but only when it is believed to be in the interests of effective treatment. Due process of law must be followed before any of your rights can be limited, unless there is a clear emergency.

Throughout this booklet we have attempted to explain what your rights are in New Mexico, which rights can be limited or taken away, and the procedures that must be followed by those who wish to limit or take away a right because they believe it is in your best interests. It is our hope that this information will provide you with the knowledge you need to protect your rights, preserve your dignity, and advocate on your own behalf…

IT’S HERE! Turn your smartphone into a powerful tool for police [or doctor and pharmacist] accountability by downloading the free ACLU Mobile Justice NM app today!


Pharmacist Steve brings us a link to a very cool video about electronic health records (EHRs), created by:

Rapper and internist “ZDoggMD”, aka Zubin Damania, M.D., is looking to shake up health care. During his 10-year career as a hospitalist at Stanford and close to burnout, Zubin turned to stand-up comedy and rap to voice his concerns and frustrations about our dysfunctional health system…

Dr. Damania is the Director of Healthcare Development for Downtown Project Las Vegas, an urban revitalization movement spearheaded by CEO Tony Hsieh, where he’s currently developing an innovative model of health care delivery that promotes wellness at both the individual and community level. He recently founded Turntable Health, a primary care clinic within Las Vegas—which he describes as “a revolution in medicine.”

The video is part rap, with a mixture of lyrics sung to Empire State of Mind (New York). If you’ve never heard Alicia Keys sing this song, you should stop what you’re doing, right this very second, and click on this link:

Be prepared for goosebumps. 🙂