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New Hampshire prescribing data law will not get Supreme Court review

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 13, 2009

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A law in New Hampshire that bans the commercial sale of physician prescribing data for use in pharmaceutical marketing has overcome its final legal hurdle. The U.S. Supreme Court in June refused to review a lower-court ruling that upheld the 2006 law's constitutionality.

Medical data analysis firms IMS Health Inc. and Verispan LLC, the latter now a part of Surveillance Data Inc., sued to stop the law from going into effect. The medical data firms argued that the law violated the First Amendment and set a precedent that could be applied to news organizations' publication of financial and other data.

The firms won the first round of the battle in U.S. District Court in 2007, but federal appeals courts ruled that New Hampshire legislators had the right to regulate the commercial use of prescribing data. Vermont and Maine have similar laws. In Vermont, physicians can opt in to let drugmakers access their prescribing records. In Maine, doctors can opt out. A federal appeals court upheld the Vermont law in April.

Physicians can keep their data away from drug reps and their direct supervisors by enrolling in the AMA's Physician Data Restriction Program (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/07/13/prbf0713.htm.

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