Arizona City Proposal to Require Fingerprinting at Pharmacies Violates Rights, Advocates Say

An Arizona city's proposal to require fingerprinting at pharmacies for certain painkillers is a prescription to violate individual privacy rights, civil liberties advocates say.

In an effort to curb prescription fraud, city officials in Peoria -- a Phoenix suburb -- have proposed measures that include requiring pharmacists to take fingerprints prior to doling out OxyContin and other potentially addictive medicines.

The Arizona State Board of Pharmacy met last week with Peoria's city attorney, members of the American Civil Liberties Union and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry to discuss the proposal, but took no action. More discussion on the topic is planned.

But ACLU attorney Dan Pochoda said the proposal -- if approved -- would make pharmacies function as annexes to police stations to collect private information.

"The proposed ordinance ignores the rights and well-being of patients and the responsibilities of medical providers and pharmacists," Pochoda said in a statement last week. "Public officials and agencies that promote or sign off on this proposal would be violating fundamental privacy protections in the United States and Arizona Constitutions."

Pochoda's statement continued, "The stated goal is to make it easier for law enforcement to obtain convictions in yet-to-be-brought criminal prosecutions and to create a pool of fingerprints from innocent persons for use by police."

Peoria City Attorney Steve Kemp, who did not immediately return a call for comment on Wednesday, has said requiring fingerprints was just one proposal. He has also proposed statewide mandates for pharmacists to require identification, report fraud cases and for increased cooperation with authorities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.