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Commonwealth study on the medical bill payments

A number of states have begun to consider legislation that would restrict access to physician prescribing information for data mining companies as part of a “backlash against pharmaceutical marketing efforts,” the AP/Arizona Republic reports. Data mining companies, such as IMS Health and Verispan, collect information on which medications physicians prescribe and the quantities in which they prescribe them and sell the data to pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical company sales representatives use the information to target physicians who prescribe medications manufactured by competitors and determine the effectiveness on their marketing efforts.

According to IMS Health officials, without such information, pharmaceutical companies would have to hire more sales representatives. However, state lawmakers maintain that, in the 10 years after IMS began mining physician prescribing information in 1993, pharmaceutical companies tripled spending on marketing efforts and doubled their number of sales representatives.

As many as 18 states this year have considered legislation that would restrict access to physician prescribing information, and Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have passed such laws. U.S. District court judges have struck down the Maine and New Hampshire laws as unconstitutional, and, in response to the court decisions, Vermont delayed the implementation of a similar law until 2009. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court heard an appeal of the lower court decision on the New Hampshire law earlier this year and likely will rule on the case this month. In the event that the appeals court overturns the lower court decision, “it could open floodgates to similar efforts nationwide,” the AP/Republic reports

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