Nevada lawmakers pass many bills, but reject prescription privacy

Scores of bills passed but a few died – including one to block pharmacies from peddling doctors’ prescription information to data.m.ining firms – as Nevada lawmakers rushed Monday to meet a deadline for action on measures.
SB231, strongly opposed by pharmaceutical and medical data.m.ining companies, lost on a 9-12 vote in the state Senate. Republicans split on the bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Heck, R-Henderson, an emergency room doctor, while most Democrats opposed the plan.
Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said the bill would hurt public access to such information, and that an American Medical Association program that gives doctors the option of restricting use of their data was sufficient.
“I’ve never been one to help the pharmaceutical companies,” said Titus. “Just by coincidence, you know, sometimes strange bedfellows come from politics. They may oppose it for one reason – they like the marketing. I’m opposing it because I think it rolls back transparency and it lets you hide information about who’s prescribing what.”
Pharmaceutical and medical datamining companies contended that the prescriber-specific data has important uses in law enforcement and research.
{It’s clear that most people in Nevada and the nation do not realize that their identifiable prescription records are data mined and sold for uses besides targeted marketing to doctors—patient-specific data is sold to insurers for underwriting many types of insurance (health, life, disability) and to large employers for decisions about hiring and promotions—without consent and without any notice to patients or recourse. HHS will not act on complaints about violating prescription privacy because prescription datamining does not violate HIPAA—prescriptions can be used for “health operations purposes” without patient consent. Clearly state laws requiring consent before disclosure of medical records, common law, and medical ethics are violated by this use of our sensitive data, but without audit trails to prove who disclosed and received our prescription records, it is difficult for consumers to prove damages. This illegal and unethical universal practice of datamining the nation’s prescriptions has been going on under the radar for over a decade. It is impossible to keep your prescription records private by paying cash since every prescription is entered into the pharmacy’s electronic database and datamined daily. If there are legitimate research needs for anyone to learn what medicines your family takes, they can ask your permission first and see if you agree to participate in the research project. Forced research without the informed consent of patients is both illegal and unethical. In addition, anytime your family’s prescription or medical records are entered into yet another electronic database, you are exposed to great risk of having that sensitive information sold yet again, used for other purposes you would never agree to, or having your personal information stolen by identity thieves. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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