California bill aims to open medical records

Dan Abendschein writes:

Pharmaceutical companies could gain access to medical records to send reminders to patients to refill prescriptions, if a state bill is passed.

The bill, SB 1096, was introduced by state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.

It allows pharmaceutical companies to purchase the information from the pharmacies that serve individual patients. But it does force those companies to disclose on mailings to the patient that the pharmacy profited from selling the information.

Advocates say patients could benefit from the bill.

“There are people with diabetes, seniors, and others who could use a reminder to refill their prescriptions,” said Calderon. “I’ve had prescriptions run out where a reminder would have been helpful.”

Consumer and civil rights advocates describe the legislation as a violation of privacy rights.


The bill failed in a vote by the Health Committee Wednesday, but two members of the committee were missing, according to Rocky Rushing, Calderon’s chief of staff. Four members of the committee voted yes on the bill, two voted no, leaving the bill one vote short of being passed to the floor of the Senate.

Rushing said he expects that a new vote will be held when the legislature reconvenes after spring break.

One of the no voters, Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, proposed an amendment designed to address privacy concerns, said Rushing.

The proposed amendment would force pharmacies to get written consent from customers on receiving mailings when they fill their prescriptions.

Calderon said, however, he does not support the amendment.

“It would make the bill meaningless,” said Calderon. “It’s been demonstrated that people won’t sign up voluntarily.”

Full story – Pasadena Star News

Prior Cover on CA: Consumer groups and advocates oppose SB 1096

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