IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health and Verispan Challenge State Laws Restricting Access to Critical Healthcare Information

With the goal of maintaining greater transparency and the free flow of information in the nation’s healthcare system, three leading health information companies IMS Health (NYSE: RX), Wolters Kluwer Health, through its subsidiary Source Healthcare Analytics, Inc., and Verispan LLC today filed lawsuits in the U.S. District Courts for Maine and Vermont challenging new state laws that restrict the collection and disclosure of physician prescribing information.
The plaintiffs are seeking a court order to enjoin enforcement of the statutes, which take effect Jan. 1, 2008, and deny access to information that is central to improving the quality of care and ensuring patient safety. The statutes are based on New Hampshire’s “Prescription Restraint Law,” which was struck down as unconstitutional in U.S. District Court in April 2007 (IMS Health Inc. v. Ayotte).
According to the plaintiffs, the statutes conflict with the national movement toward greater transparency in healthcare practices and with the ruling handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro in New Hampshire earlier this year.
“The new laws in Vermont and Maine will have the same unintended consequences as the one in New Hampshire, blocking vital healthcare information from public view while doing nothing to drive down prescription drug costs or improve the health and well-being of citizens. In fact, it’s very likely they will have the opposite effect,” said Randy Frankel, IMS vice president, External Affairs. “While we would have preferred to work with both states on alternatives, they have chosen instead to follow the same path as New Hampshire. We feel we have no choice but to protect access to this essential information by opposing any legislation of this nature.”
In the state filings, the three companies reiterated their strong, unqualified support for patient privacy, noting that the prescribing information each collects is anonymized and does not reveal individual patient health records.
{The nations’ largest prescription data miners are suing Maine and Vermont to try to block laws those states passed to end prescription data mining. Data mining is theft. The data miners allege that they “protect patient privacy” and allege that the data they sell is used to “monitor and monitor and manage the safety of medications, implement drug recalls, rapidly communicate information to doctors about innovative new treatments and conduct public health studies”, “educate healthcare providers about the prescribing practices”, “ensure that the right doctors receive relevant, timely information about drugs and have the knowledge they need to make the right choices for their patients. “ Sounds really good, but it’s just not true. Their business is selling stolen prescription records to drug companies, employers, and insurers so they can pressure doctors to switch medications or for other uses. The claim that the stolen prescription data they sell is “anonymized” has never been substantiated. In fact many doctors report the opposite: i.e., that drug company representatives have complete lists of their patients’ names and the drugs they are taking. The key point is that these data mining corporations make billions by stealing the entire nation’s prescription records. It is impossible in the US to keep a prescription private—all 51,000 pharmacies are data mined daily and the data has been sold to insurers and drug companies for over a decade. These corporations do not have our informed consent to copy, sell, or use our prescriptions. Who wants a drug company or insurer to pressure their doctor to switch their medications? If my doctors are being pressured to prescribe different brands pf antibiotics or heart medicines—that pressure directly affects my treatment and puts me at risk of harm, whether or not they sell my name. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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