May 01, 2007
Judge jilts Granite State data hatas
A New Hampshire law barring the commercial use of prescription data has been struck down on First Amendment grounds. A federal judge agreed with the arguments of IMS Health and Verispan, which sued to block the law, dubbed the Prescription Privacy Protection Act. The law, which took effect last August, was aimed at keeping prescription data out of the hands of pharmaceutical manufacturers and crippling their detailing efforts. Summarizing a 54-page decision, US District Judge Paul Barbadoro said: “Because the Prescription Information Law restricts constitutionally protected speech without directly serving the state’s substantial interests and because alternatives exist that would achieve the state’s interests as well or better without restricting speech, the law cannot be enforced to the extent that it purports to restrict the transfer or use of prescriber-identifiable data.” Earlier in April, Barbadoro took the unusual step of asking lawyers from both sides to critique a draft of his factual findings before ruling on the case. New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte told The Associated Press last night her office was still weighing whether to appeal the decision. The decision could forestall a gathering wave of state-level legislation aimed at stymieing drug reps by restricting companies’ access to data. A dozen states have considered similar measures in recent months. John Kamp, executive director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication said the judge in the case “appropriately focused on the fact that the New Hampshire legislature wanted to reduce the sale of branded drugs.” Kamp added the case was not only about New Hampshire but it was also about “New Hampshire wannabes” in other jurisdictions. “The overturning of the New Hampshire law throws ice on top of any other state, including the federal government,” looking to enact look-alike bills, Kamp said.