Personal Health Information for sale

  • CVS Caremark’s iScribe e-prescribing program obtains absolute rights via their service agreement to all inputted data, allowing them to sell data to drug manufacturers, clearinghouses, and data analysis companies. “CVS Caremark: An Alarming Prescription”, Change to Win — November 2008
  • CVS Caremark was paid by Merck to identify patients with a certain diagnosis or taking a certain medication and then sent targeted letters to their physicians promoting an alternate, more expensive medication. The letters singled out specific patients and listed their identifiable data such as name, patient ID, date of birth, and current medication regimen. “CVS Caremark: An Alarming Prescription”, Change to Win — November 2008
  • Many EHR vendor contracts stipulate ownership, exclusive access, and a right to sell data. A nationally prominent physician informaticist and member of AHIC and NCVHS, reported he had personally seen the contract language. Vendors of both large and small, inpatient and outpatient systems have contracts stipulating they “have ownership to the data. There are contracts that say they will have real-time access to the database, that they will have exclusive access to the data, that they can resell the data.” Modern Healthcare, “IT guru says some e-vendor contracts violate privacy” by Joseph Conn July 19, 2007)
  • Albertsons, the Grocery store chain, collects and sells its customers’ confidential medical information (primarily prescriptions) including addresses, phone numbers and drug regimen. The information is sold to pharmaceutical companies that use the information for mailings and phone calls encouraging use of certain medications and marketing alternative brand name medications. Motions to Dismiss and Strike in Weisz v. Albertsons Inc have been denied and it is proceeding through discovery. Albertson’s received $3.00 $4.50 per letter sent. Weisz v. Albertsons Inc, (San Diego Superior Court Case No. GIC 830069) and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/PharmQA.htm
  • In 2007, West Virginia’s Public Employees Insurance Agency discovered Express Scripts was selling their prescription data to data-mining organizations to better target physicians and increase prescribing of certain brand name drugs. The Charleston Gazette, “For sale. Public Employees Insurance Agency drug data” November 27, 2007
  • Free EMRs sell “De-Identified Data” to insurance groups, researchers and pharmaceutical companies. For example, Practice Fusion subsidizes its free EMRs by selling de-identified data and advertising within the EMR. Many experts agree that truly de-identified data is incredibly rare, if not impossible. Healthcare IT News, “Practice Fusion expands, shows rapid sign of growth” by Diana Manos December 31, 2007