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Maine Governor to Sign Bill Banning Data Mining

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The state of Maine will soon the join the ranks of those banning the sale of prescription drug information to pharma companies, which use it to help pitch their products to physicians.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D) will sign the legislation, which the Maine legislature passed last week, said Dan Cashman, the governor’s assistant press secretary.

The bill, L.D. 4, will prohibit the sale of prescription drug information that directly or indirectly identifies the healthcare practitioner who ordered the prescription. Current Maine law already prohibits the sale by prescription drug intermediaries of prescription drug information that directly or indirectly identifies patients, designating it as a violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Maine thus becomes the third state to ban prescription data mining, after Vermont and New Hampshire. Several other states are reportedly considering similar measures.

Paul Barbadoro, U.S. District Court judge for the District of New Hampshire, April 30 struck down the New Hampshire law on free speech grounds. New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced May 3 that she would appeal the decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The Vermont law, which the governor of that state signed earlier this month, was tailored to avoid the problems that led Barbadoro to strike down the New Hampshire law, for example, mandating fines rather than imprisonment for violators.