Print

ACLU challenges required drug testing for patients on pain medications

James Wierciak is a Hamilton County, Ind. resident who has been prescribed pain medications for nearly two decades to manage the chronic pain caused by a variety of health problems. But in late 2013, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board adopted new rules requiring people like James who receive certain levels of common pain medications from their physicians to sign a treatment agreement that mandates annual drug testing.

Patients prescribed certain pain medications should not be forced to consent to annual drug testing as a condition of treatment.

This mandatory drug testing simply goes too far. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution offers protection from government-mandated searches unless there is cause or justification.

The ACLU of Indiana challenged this rule in court, saying the testing constituted an unreasonable search, and therefore violated the Fourth Amendment. Our class-action lawsuit sought to prohibit the Medical Licensing Board from requiring the drug testing when that testing is not medically indicated and from requiring patients to sign a treatment agreement consenting to the testing.

In response to our lawsuit, the Medical Licensing Board passed a new rule that went into effect on November 1, 2014 (844 IAC 5-6-8) that removes the former requirement that tests must be performed, and instead authorizes the doctor to perform tests when they are deemed to be medically necessary. It also lists factors that doctors should consider in determining whether or not to require testing. Because testing is no longer required by the State, but is left up to the reasonable medical judgment of physicians, we do not believe that there is any longer a Fourth Amendment problem.

Download a copy of the lawsuit

Learn what's happening with drug testing nationally