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Privacy, please.

Even though state and federal laws protect medical records generally, patients have been shocked to learn that their names have been sold or used for marketing purposes. Some doctors are also displeased to find that their prescription writing patterns are being shared among commercial companies.

New Hampshire recently became the first state to ban the sale or use of patient and prescriber information (name, address, prescribed medication, diagnosed illness) for commercial purposes. Before the bill's passage, commercial companies could obtain personal medical information and use it to advertise and promote products, gain market share, influence production, and direct the prescribing habits of health care professionals.

"By prohibiting the identity of our health care providers from being sold to the pharmaceutical industry, we hope to allow them to make decisions based solely on their patients' best interests and, thus, curb the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs," says Representative Cindy Rosenwald, a sponsor of the law. The legislation was supported by a bi-partisan group of state legislators.

Several states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii and West Virginia, proposed similar bills during the 2006 legislative session.

Not everyone's happy about the new restrictions. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the American Medical Association both oppose this kind of law. "This legislation ... could have an adverse impact on activities aimed at enhancing patient care and the appropriate use of medicines," says Ken Johnson of PhRMA. "Appropriate access to prescribing data enables companies to quickly identify and reach out to physicians who prescribe the specific products at issue."
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Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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