Companies ask court to decide whether N.H. prescribing law is legal

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 28, 2006

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Two medical data collection firms are challenging the constitutionality of the nation's first law to prohibit drugmakers from using doctors' prescribing information for marketing purposes. In a lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in New Hampshire in July, IMS Health Inc. and Verispan LLC claim that the state's law restricts information essential to improving health care quality.

The problem with the statute is that it "creates an entirely new and special privacy right for physicians at the expense of health care quality and patient safety," said Verispan's chief privacy and ethics officer, Scot Ganow.

The companies are asking the court to block enforcement of the law, which took effect June 30. Richard W. Head, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte, said they are in the process of drafting a response to the lawsuit.

The New Hampshire Medical Society endorsed the new statute, saying it would protect doctors from the influence of pharmaceutical representatives that profile their prescribing behavior and would provide extra privacy safeguards to patients. NHMS also disputes the lawsuit's claims.

"The law does not prevent [data companies] from collecting the data, it prevents them from selling it for profit," NHMS President Marc M. Sadowsky, MD, said.

The AMA opposes restrictions on the disclosure of physician prescribing data, which it says can be beneficial for evidence-based research.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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