Remember the Maine (verdict)

  • by: |
  • 12/28/2007
From the pages of the Boston Globe …

Judge shoots down Maine law curbing access to prescription data

BANGOR, Maine—Relying heavily on a ruling in New Hampshire, a federal judge has overturned a new state law that restricts access by medical data companies to doctors' prescription information.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock concluded that the law, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, would prohibit "the transfer of truthful commercial information" and "violate the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment."

Here’s the rest of the story:

In addition to First Amendment issues, there are important public health reasons why this data must continue to be shared with pharmaceutical companies.

When FDA-directed safety warnings are issued, they’re communicated via “Dear Doctor” letters to physicians who have prescribed the drug. This is accomplished quickly and precisely because industry has access to physician-specific prescribing data. And when safety issues arise, that same data helps define the scope of the problem (i.e., how many patients are taking the drug and for how long). Also, FDA-mandated risk management plans, developed for physicians who prescribe higher-risk therapies are targeted through the use of this same prescribing data. It’s also an important tool in clinical trial recruitment, allowing focused efforts towards doctors treating targeted patient populations.

When it comes to public health trumping politics -- remember the Maine verdict.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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