Think info about your Rx is private? Better think again

Do you know where your private prescription information is? As pharmacy chains, benefits companies and drug makers work more closely, your prescription history is being shared more than you might think.

“We have more information on the consumer and their behavior than anybody else, and we share it with our over-the-counter suppliers,” Thomas Ryan, president and chief executive, told investors last year. “We share it with our pharmacy suppliers. So we know how the consumer works.”

“Benefits companies are using patient information as a commercial pitch to drug companies. Is it an abuse of that relationship? Of course it is.”

But is it a violation of patient privacy laws? That is less clear.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPPA, gives patients certain privacy rights over their medical information — for example, protection against marketing campaigns.

But some privacy experts say the CVS Caremark mailings don’t technically violate HIPPA regulations, because the letters are sent as educational materials to doctors, not as promotional campaigns.

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