American Journal of Law & Medicine

Prescription drug data-mining: federal appellate court upholds law that guards privacy of prescribing practices and rejects free speech challenge - IMS Health, Inc. v. Ayotte.

Prescription Drug Data-Mining: Federal Appellate Court Upholds Law that Guards Privacy of Prescribing Practices and Rejects Free Speech Challenge--IMS Health, Inc. v. Ayotte (1)--The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that a New Hampshire statute, (2) which bans the transfer or sale of physicians' prescribing information for certain commercial purposes, regulates conduct rather than protected speech and does not violate the First Amendment. (3)

The plaintiffs, IMS Health, Inc. and Verispan, LLC, are two of the nation's largest data-mining firms. (4) Data-mining refers to the purchase, analysis and sale of data that reveals the identity of physicians and the drugs they prescribe ("prescriber-identifiable data"), but not patient information. (5) Pharmaceutical companies purchase this information and utilize it in marketing efforts that directly target physicians ("detailing"). (6) Each year the plaintiffs analyze billions of prescription transactions and earn "substantially all" of their revenue by selling the resulting "profiles" to pharmaceutical companies, who then target their sales pitches to the known preferences of prescribers. …

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