CT Drug Data Mining Firm Faces Free Speech Test

Two years ago, on an unseasonably warm April day, a coalition of consumer health advocates, union members, doctors, medical students, and the AARP converged on the State Capitol in Hartford. They had come from throughout the Northeast to urge legislators to pass, among other measures, a bill that would prevent information about doctors’ prescribing habits from being sold and used for commercial means.

For years, pharmacies have sold electronic prescription records, with patients’ names encrypted, to medical data providers. These companies in turn sell them to pharmaceutical firms, which use them as a potent tool for marketing drugs to doctors. Among the world’s leading data providers—sometimes known as “data miners”—is Norwalk-based IMS Health, Inc.

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