NH drug info case begins

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IMS Health and Verispan will seek to protect the right to market prescription data from pharmacies in a case beginning this week. The research firms are bringing the case in US District Court in New Hampshire in the hope of striking down a law that took effect in the state last August, the Prescription Privacy Protection Act. The case’s outcome could set a precedent for states such as Nebraska, Nevada and Missouri, which have introduced copycat bills. New York is expected to do so this year. By banning the commercial use of prescription audit data, the act is designed to stop pharmaceutical sales people from influencing physicians’ medical decisions as well as help cut healthcare costs by leading to prescribing of less expensive drugs, say proponents. Under an exemption in the law, organizations can use the information as long as they do not profit from it. IMS and Verispan argue that the act restricts the flow of essential prescriber information and that it violates First Amendment free-speech protections. New Hampshire Rep. Cindy Rosenwald introduced the bill after her husband, a cardiologist, complained of being targeted by a sales rep.

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