Supreme showdown in Rx data case this monthCan Vermont bar companies from mining doctors' prescribing data and selling it to drug makers, unless doctors consent, or does such a law violate the First Amendment?
That's the question the Supreme Court is scheduled to take up April 26 when it hears arguments for and against reversing the Second Circuit's decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health. The outcome, expected in June, is likely to resolve the constitutionality of Vermont's statute and similar laws in New Hampshire and Maine, notwithstanding minor differences.
The US Department of Justice, 34 states and the District of Columbia joined Vermont AG William Sorrell in filing briefs supporting his state's law.
Several medical groups did too: the American Academy of Family Practitioners, American Academy of Pediatrics and the New England Journal of Medicine.
Regarding these “friend of the court” briefs, Vermont assistant AG Bridget Asay told MM&M:“It's an important representation of how much doctors care about this issue.”
The Supreme Court decision to hear the case follows a victory for data providers in Vermont last November. In that state, a federal appeals court reversed a district court ruling that limited the commercial exchange of prescriber data.
The Second US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law in Vermont infringed on First Amendment protections by limiting the free exchange of commercial information. In December, Sorrell filed a petition with the high court, which then agreed to hear the case.