German firm accused of data breach

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It's being called one of the biggest data scandals the German healthcare industry has ever seen. Munich area market research firm Pharmafakt GFD is being accused of selling raw prescription information to drug companies without removing data that can be used to trace identities.

Based on a confession, given “under oath,” and appearing in the magazine Der Spiegel, a former Pharmafakt employee says the datamining company saved data from millions of pharmacy prescriptions, analyzed them and then sold the records to pharma firms, without de-identifying them first.

The research outfit balked at the accusations: “The GFD did not pass on or sell personal data. All data is only used to produce studies,” Pharmafakt GFD manager Dietmar Wassener told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. A state enforcement official who was shown the Pharmafakt data, however, said it seemed authentic.

Clients of Pharmafakt GFD  include several top-10 drug­makers.
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