The Supreme Court has endorsed the data-mining of physicians’ prescribing records for use in marketing pharmaceuticals.
WASHINGTON — Data on which doctors are prescribing which drugs is speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and pharmaceutical companies have every right to buy that information and use it to target their marketing efforts, the Supreme Court has ruled.
At issue was a 2007 Vermont law that prohibited those data-mining practices in the interest of protecting physician privacy and reducing the cost of prescription drugs by scaling back marketing.
But by a 6-3 margin, the court struck down the Vermont ban, rejecting the state’s contention that selling the prescription-drug data is “conduct” and not “speech.”
The Court ruled that “The creation and dissemination of information are speech for First Amendment purposes.” (And are continuing for all practical purposes.)
More grist for the pill mill.
John Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is a media analyst and mass communication professor at Boston University.
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