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First Amendment

2012

Georgetown University Law Center

Patient privacy

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Marketing Pharmaceuticals: A Constitutional Right To Sell Prescriber-Identified Data?, Lawrence O. Gostin Jan 2012

Marketing Pharmaceuticals: A Constitutional Right To Sell Prescriber-Identified Data?, Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Pharmaceutical companies have strong economic interests in influencing physician-prescribing behaviors. They advertise direct-to-the-consumer and to the physician. Beyond general marketing, manufacturers promote their drugs to physicians through “detailing”—sales representatives (“detailers”) visiting medical offices to persuade physicians to prescribe their products.

By law, pharmacies receive specific information with every prescription, including the physician’s name, the drug, and the dose. Pharmacies sell these records to Prescription Drug Intermediaries (data miners), who use advanced computing to analyze prescriber-identified information (which physicians prescribe what drugs, in what dose, and with what prescribing patterns). Data miners, in turn, lease sophisticated reports to pharmaceutical companies to …