Maine Data Mining Law Overturned

January 2, 2008

In a ruling benefiting pharma, a federal judge has overturned a Maine law restricting pharmaceutical company access to physicians’ prescribing information.

The law, which would have become effective Jan. 1, restricts freedom of commercial speech and violates the First Amendment, according to the court.

The judge granted a motion for preliminary injunction and enjoined the enforcement of parts of the law, which was intended to curb inappropriate marketing to physicians.

Suits challenging data mining laws were filed in August 2007 in Maine and Vermont by three health information companies — IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health and Verispan. The companies sell prescribing information to pharmaceutical firms for marketing purposes.

These state laws would restrict collecting and sharing physician prescribing information for marketing purposes and would conflict with the trend toward industry transparency, the companies said in filing the suits.

Maine passed its law in June 2007, allowing prescribers to opt out of data mining and preventing pharmaceutical companies from using their individualized prescribing information for marketing.