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Drug companies defend data mining practice

Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2009

By obtaining data from pharmacies and health insurers, drug companies learn the prescribing habits of thousands of doctors. That information has become not just a powerful sales and marketing tool for the pharmaceutical industry but also a source of growing concern among some elected officials, healthcare advocates, and legal authorities, the Los Angeles Times reports. What worries some government officials and patient advocates is that keying sales tactics to an individual doctor's prescribing preferences—known as data mining—may distort decision-making and fuel prescribing of new, high-cost drugs, the Times reports.