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Supreme Court Rejects VT Law on Prescription Data

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 24, 2011

The Supreme Court took up the issue in Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., a company that describes itself as "the leading provider of information services for the healthcare industry around the world."

In a statement posted on its website, IMS said the court banned "the voluntary exchange of information on a matter of public importance – improperly restricting the rights of others from using information about physicians' prescribing practices. Existing laws in Maine and New Hampshire also will likely be declared unconstitutional or repealed in light of this Supreme Court decision."

Having aggregated data on prescription sales is useful to distribute information about safety concerns or product recalls and to conduct research.

IMS Health said in the statement on its website: "We are pleased with today's decision. Patients have a critical interest in ensuring that their doctors are fully informed about all current treatment options that could save or meaningfully improve their lives."

"This decision helps get cutting-edge information to physicians and helps advance the research and development of new breakthroughs," said Sharon Terry, president and CEO of Genetic Alliance, a nonprofit health advocacy organization networking more than 10,000 disease-specific advocacy organizations and healthcare entities.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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