And You Thought a Prescription Was Private

Randee Lonergan says a pharmacy sold her prescription history to a local Target without her knowledge.

MORE than 10 years after she tried without success to have a baby, Marcy Campbell Krinsk is still receiving painful reminders in her mail. The ads and promotions started after she bought fertility drugs at a pharmacy in San Diego.

Marketers got hold of her name, and she found coupons and samples in her mail that shadowed the growth of an imaginary child — at first, for Pampers and baby formula, then for discounts on family photos, and all the way through the years to gifts suitable for an elementary school graduate.

Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist in Austin, Tex., who lobbies for privacy rights, said she predicts “a looming battle between the data thieves and those that believe in constructing a digital universe with even stronger protections for the privacy of personal information than we have in the world of medical records on paper.”


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