Letter: Ban data mining and sale of prescription records

Maine wants to ban the data mining and sale of identifiable prescription records to drug companies. It’s about time. But marketing to doctors is not the only unwanted and illegal use of your personal prescription records.

Identifiable prescription records have been data mined daily from every pharmacy in the U.S. for over a decade and sold to insurers for underwriting and to large employers. These secret uses result in discrimination, job loss, and increased insurance rates or even insurance denial. Losing your job is far worse than having drug companies pressure doctors and pharmacists to change your prescriptions.

Patient Privacy Rights leads a broad bipartisan coalition of national consumer groups working to save medical privacy. We are urging Congress to ban the illegal and unethical uses of everyone’s highly sensitive medical and prescription records. In 2006, our coalition letters to the House stopped a bill to build a national electronic health system without consumer control of electronic medical records.

The nation’s electronic health care system is hemorrhaging personal health information. Our medical and financial records are being used and sold for purposes that no one would want.

No one should have to choose between health care and privacy. We should decide who sees our medical records, not over 600,000 health-related businesses and government agencies.

Stop the illegal data mining of prescriptions in Maine — but tell Congress to also restore your rights to medical privacy and control of your health records.

Dr. Deborah C. Peel
Chair, Patient Privacy Rights Foundation

{The state of Maine is considering a law to ban the use of prescription data for marketing, which is not nearly enough. See Mining our own business in the Kennebec Journal. The author of the story and the people of Maine do not know that their prescription records are also being sold to insurers and employers for underwriting and employment decisions. Those harmful uses should also be banned. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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