July 18, 2011
From the Center for Democracy and Technology;
Supreme Court Finds No Privacy in Vermont Drug Marketing Law
On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc. et al., striking down as unconstitutional a Vermont statute that prohibited the use of drug prescribing information for marketing purposes.
The data targeted by the statute was de-identified with respect to patients per HIPAA standards. The data identified prescribers and their prescribing patterns and is commonly used for “detailing” or targeted prescriber marketing by drug company sales representatives. In enacting the statute, Vermont identified the need to curb costs associated with the prescribing of brand-name drugs (versus available generic alternatives). Vermont also argued that the statute was enacted to protect patient and prescriber privacy.
By a vote of 6-3 the Court found that the Vermont statute was not aimed at protecting privacy and violated the free speech rights of drug marketers.