Alert: Pharmacies Are Still Profiting At Your Expense Your Help Is Requested
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has sent me a copy of this release/alert:
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has been in the forefront in asserting that pharmacies — and their marketing partners, the big pharmaceutical companies — act improperly when using the medical information in customer prescriptions to sell more drugs.
Albertsons, a supermarket powerhouse operates in 33 states under the Sav-On, Osco and Jewel- OSCO pharmacy labels (until recently sold). It is proceeding with various programs without customer permission while converting personal prescription information into a highly sophisticated marketing database. PRC has previously discussed how this allows communications to be sent to you based on your medical condition as implied by the information in your prescription.
A separate, but complimentary, lawsuit against Albertsons (Sav-On, OSCO. Jewel-OSCO pharmacies) and Walgreens is now being prepared by the same law firm, Finkelstein & Krinsk, based in San Diego, Calif. The lawsuit is intended to end the sale of your prescription information to certain companies (for example, IMS Health, Inc. and/or Verispan, LLC) that buy your data from pharmacies to identify the prescribing practices of your doctors or other health care providers. Though the pharmacy removes personal information from what it sells, the remaining data is principally sold to pharmaceutical companies that then target specific prescribers in order to market more of their drugs.
Once able to identify the prescribing doctor and the volume prescribed by that doctor, he/she can more easily be marketed (often through visits called “detailing”) by the pharmaceutical companies that commit vast resources to marketing prescription drugs. In 2000, the pharmaceutical industry spent $15.7 billion on marketing, $4 billion of which was dedicated to direct-to-physician strategies. More recent estimates suggest the industry currently spends between $25 billion to $30 billion per year on marketing. A 2008 study found that, based on 2004 data, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends nearly 25% of sales dollars on marketing, versus just over 13% for research and development.
We believe the information of a person’s medical prescription belongs to that person, not the pharmacy. The practice described above results in increasing the cost to consumers of their prescription drugs. It is a big business. IMS Health, for example, purchases prescription information from approximately 100 different suppliers. Verispan obtains its information from approximately 30 to 40 suppliers.
If you too believe the activity of selling your prescription data is wrong, we want to hear from you if you live in California and have your prescription(s) filled by Sav-On or Walgreens in California.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization based in San Diego, CA.
Web: www.privacyrights.org .
Or call (619) 298-3396.