Courts Refuse To Block State Laws Restricting Rx Data-Mining Firms

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On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case over a New Hampshire law that restricts the activities of data-mining firms, Reuters reports.

The New Hampshire law prohibits the collection of prescription data for the purpose of increasing drug sales. It also aims to reduce health care costs by preventing drug companies from persuading physicians to prescribe more costly medications.

IMS Health and Verispan filed an appeal after a circuit court upheld the law and rejected the firms' argument that the statute impinged on their First Amendment rights (Vicini, Reuters, 6/29).

Several groups filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the data-mining companies. They include:

  • eHealth Initiative;
  • National Alliance for Health IT;
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores;
  • SureScripts; and
  • Wolters Kluwer Health (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 6/29).

The Supreme Court did not give a reason for declining the case (Porter, Rutland Herald, 6/30).

Vermont Case

In related news, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday declined to issue an injunction to block the implementation of a similar Vermont law restricting data mining.

IMS Health, Verispan, Source Healthcare Analytics and the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America filed the Vermont case (Modern Healthcare, 6/29).

The Vermont law makes it illegal for companies to mine prescription data for marketing purposes, unless physicians opt into the system.

The firms claim that data mining is useful to advance research and improve health care. They also argue that curbing the practice violates the U.S. Constitution.

The appeals court's decision means the law will likely go into effect as planned on July 1.

The companies say they plan to appeal the case.

If an appeals court rules in favor of the drug companies, it is possible that the case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court, the Rutland Herald reports (Rutland Herald, 6/30).

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