OCOG joins amicus brief urging release of DEA opiate database

The Ohio Coalition for Open Government has joined an amicus brief alongside the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to a lawsuit filed by HD Media and the Washington Post, which are seeking access to a Drug Enforcement Administration database monitoring opiate pain pills. OCOG joined dozens of media organizations suing for access to the database including Advance Publications, Inc., American Society of News Editors, The Associated Press, Digital First Media, Dow Jones & Company, Gannett, and Politico.

The case is currently pending in federal court in Ohio

According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the lawsuit In re Nat'l Prescription Opiate Litigation was brought in response to a case filed by government entities from across the US, who are suing manufacturers, distributors and retailers of prescription opiate drugs. As part of discovery, the district court directed the DEA to produce its Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (“ARCOS”) database, which is a database that monitors the flow of opioids from manufacture to distribution to pharmacies and shows the number of doses distributed in each county by each company on a yearly basis. The defendents filed an objection to the release of the ARCOS database with the district court, which lead the Washington Post and HD Media to file their public records requests and lawsuit.

The Reporters Committee's amicus brief highlights the difference between the standard for protective orders and orders sealing court records; argues that a district court's analysis of "good cause" when entering a protective order must take into account the public interest in disclosure, and that disclosure of the ARCOS data would shed light on this litigation as well as a national health epidemic; argues that the protective order frustrates the public's right of access to the ACROS data under state law, including public records laws; and argues that the district court erred by authorizing the blanket sealing of numerous court records. 

To read the brief, click here.