On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that Vermont must pay $2.24 million to IMS Health to cover legal fees associated with a case that upheld the company's right to conduct medical data mining for marketing purposes, the Burlington Free Press reports (Remsen, Burlington Free Press, 7/17).
By law, pharmacies are required to collect and maintain files on each prescription filled. That information -- including the prescribing doctor's name and address, and the amount of drug prescribed -- can be sold to data collection firms. Patient data are not included in the sale.
The firms then sell that data to drugmakers that market products to physicians.
The Vermont law required doctors to grant consent before their prescribing information is sold and used for marketing.
Three data collection firms -- including IMS Health and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America -- challenged the law.
In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling overturned the Vermont law, declaring that the statute had placed an unconstitutional restraint on the free-speech rights of drugmakers (iHealthBeat, 6/23/11).
IMS Health initially sought to recoup about $4.2 million in legal fees and expenses for the case, an amount that Vermont officials called excessive.
In his ruling, Murtha called for Vermont to pay $2.24 million to IMS Health (Burlington Free Press, 7/17).
After the ruling, the office of state Attorney General William Sorrell (D) in a statement said that IMS Health's legal team had overstated the number of hours worked. The office called for IMS Health's legal fees to be further reduced to $1.48 million (Gram, AP/Boston Globe, 7/17).
Vermont previously paid about $1.76 million in legal fees and expenses to PhRMA and spent about $650,000 on its own legal expenses, bringing the total amount that the state is expected to pay in the case to about $4.65 million (Burlington Free Press, 7/17).