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Pharmacies, AMA sell doctors' drug prescribing records on the open market as patient privacy falters

Monday, July 03, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition


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(NewsTarget) According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, health care information companies have been purchasing prescription records from pharmacies and other sources since the early 1990s. These companies then compile that data with individual physicians' information licensed from the American Medical Association (AMA) and sell those physicians' prescribing data to pharmaceutical companies.

Recently such health care information companies -- the largest of which is Connecticut-based IMS Health -- have come under fire from physicians who are disturbed that drug companies have access to their prescription patterns and tendencies. Some physicians have been confronted with their own prescribing information by pushy drug sales representatives, which has led to a number of data sales restrictions.

The AMA -- which earned $44.5 million in revenue from the sale of such information in 2005 -- has created a program designed to restrict data sales by allowing physicians to deny the sale of their individual prescribing information to drug company sales representatives. However, doctors cannot prevent other drug company officials from seeing it.

Some states have initiated programs that allow doctors who do not restrict access to their data to see their own information, as well as educational material focused on prescription patterns and medications for common diseases. Other states, such as New Hampshire, have passed legislation that supersedes the AMA's program and bans the sale of prescribing information for marketing purposes.

The AMA says that enacting such bans would result in pharmaceutical companies offering physicians fewer drug samples and fewer offers for high-paying speaking engagements and continuing medical education programs.

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