AMA Discloses Masterfile Physician Data to Pharmaceutical Companies

Recent protests at the American Medical Association (AMA) annual meeting in Chicago brought to the forefront the fact that the AMA has begun disclosing information in its Masterfile, or physician database, to pharmaceutical companies, as reported in a Chicago Tribune news article published June 24. Although the Prescription Project, the National Physicians Alliance, and the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) are protesting the “sales” of these data for pharmaceutical marketing purposes, the AMA calls the financial arrangement “licensure” and notes that physicians have the right to opt out of sharing their personal information.
“The Prescription Project, AMSA and the National Physicians Alliance have partnered to bring the practice of data mining into the public eye and educate physicians about the problem,” Robert Restuccia, BA, MPA, executive director of the Prescription Project, told Medscape.
“We are calling on the AMA to stop the practice and on individual doctors who do not want to be complicit in this process to communicate their concerns to the AMA,” Mr. Restuccia said. “We are also calling on state officials to support legislation to end the sale of prescriber level data for pharmaceutical marketing purposes.” The Prescription Project is led by Community Catalyst in partnership with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession and is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
“The AMA has been responsibly licensing its database for 65 to 70 years for all sorts of purposes: medical education, both continuing and graduate, and for marketing and credentialing purposes,” Robert Musacchio, PhD, AMA senior vice president of Publishing and Business Services, told Medscape. “Every hospital in the country uses data from our file to verify that a physician is who they say they are. We do not sell the information, we license it, which means we can control where it goes, to whom it goes, and the manner in which it’s used throughout our contract.”
{This is a detailed story about the AMA’s sale of data on all the nation’s doctors to drug companies. The saddest part of this story is that the AMA is only worried about how doctors are harmed, not about the harms to patients and consumers. The greatest harm from prescription data mining is the fact that identifiable patient information is sold to insurers for underwriting without their knowledge or consent and sold to or shared with large employers for decisions about employment. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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