…The officer explained that, during the investigation of the morphine theft, Pyle’s personal prescription drug records had been pulled from Utah’s Controlled Substances Database. Pyle was being accused not of stealing morphine but of prescription drug fraud. The allegation doesn’t necessarily involve selling pills; instead, authorities believed that Pyle had visited multiple doctors in order to obtain narcotics.
But the detective investigating the case had pulled far more than Pyle’s records; he had actually pulled the prescription records of all 480 employees of the local fire authority, sifting through the sensitive health information of firefighters, paramedics, and clerical staff, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Such prescription information could reveal whether the workers had anxiety disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, or AIDS. It could reveal if an individual identified as transgender or suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
On an obscure webpage that looks like it’s been barely updated in the last decade there’s a link to download a PDF with the unassuming name of “NDSP Catalog.” Click it and you’ll find pretty much every drug you can dream up: meth, cocaine, heroin, MDMA—nearly 800 compounds in all. Welcome to the scientist’s stash of illegal drugs, available for free from the government.
The catalog, aka NIDA Drug Supply Program, provides scientists with scheduled substances for human and animal research. If you’ve ever seen a subway ad recruiting for marijuana research or a news coverage of how cocaine addles the brains of mice, then you’ve likely indirectly encountered the NDSP.