California Senate Passes Bill Giving Marketers Access to Rx Information
The California Senate passed a bill that would allow pharmacies to sell patient information to third-party marketers, including drug companies. It was sent to the California Assembly for consideration.
The bill would allow a pharmacy to send mail to a patient without the patient’s authorization on condition that the letter pertain only to the prescribed course of medical treatment; not mention any other pharmaceutical products; be copied to the FDA’s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications; and include disclosures about whether the pharmacy receives direct or indirect remuneration for making the written communication, among other conditions. The patient must receive an opportunity to opt out of the mailings.
The bill originally failed in a vote and was reintroduced with the patient opt-out amendment.
“The concept in this bill would interfere with the physician-patient relationship and could jeopardize patient safety,” the California Medical Association said in a letter to state senators before the vote. “Essentially, this bill allows pharmaceutical marketing entities to practice medicine through the mail, outside of any physician/patient interaction.” The Consumer Federation of California also said it opposes the bill on patient privacy grounds.
California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act prohibits healthcare providers, service plans, contractors, corporations and subsidiaries and affiliates from intentionally sharing, selling, using for marketing or otherwise using any medical information for any purpose not necessary to provide healthcare services to a patient without authorization.
The bill, California S.B. 1096, can be viewed at info.sen.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_1051-1100/sb_1096_bill_20080523_amended_sen_v96.pdf.