Sunday, August 09, 2009

Your Prescription Information For Sale

I wish this was hard to believe:
Like many other people, Ms. Krinsk thought that her prescription information was private. But in fact, prescriptions, and all the information on them — including not only the name and dosage of the drug and the name and address of the doctor, but also the patient’s address and Social Security number — are a commodity bought and sold in a murky marketplace, often without the patients’ knowledge or permission.
But given the money involved, I'm afraid it isn't.

But with the pharmaceutical industry soon to release $150M dollars of ads promoting health reform as they cozy up to Congressional leaders, the conflicts of interest for patient's privacy are staggering. Further, the promotion of the electronic medical record, personal health records, and ultimately, cloud computing (where no one will know where health data resides), are firmly part of the health reform landscape.

Now before people think I'm totally against the EMR, let me be candid: I'm not. It does facilitate care and is an incredible means of communication between physicians and laboratories and pharmacies and the like. When used properly, they are miraculous.

But the risks of losing information remain huge. Certainly, the above referenced New York Times article notes that safeguards are supposed to be enacted to prevent this wholesale marketing of your health data.

But suddenly, we learn of a White House snitch line where they will collect e-mails of people who might be spreading "misinformation" about the health reform efforts underway. (Thanks to my previous blog post, I am happy to report I've been reported! ;)) But this occurs at a time when privacy issues in health care must be seen as paramount and electronic medical records prototed as secure.


So now we have a White House eager to build a snitch line as they cozy up to pharaceutical interests that are already selling personal information from prescription data, all while trying to promote the security of electronic medical records to the masses.

Who are they kidding?

But then, shucks, just think of the marketing possibilities for the government:

And lest people think I'm too partisan (who me?), the Republicans with their travel junkets aren't any better.



Reference: White House blog with snitch e-mail link at .


Anonymous said...

While undergoing infertility treatment my doc suggested trying a month of glucaphage to see if perhaps it may enhance my response - I'm not diabetic, not even close to pre-diabetic (FBG 82, 2-hr OGTT 94)....but some data suggests a low dose could potentially do something (off-label use)......within ONE WEEK of filling the prescription I was inundated with pamphlets about diabetes, letters to make an appointment with a nutritionist to learn how to manage my diabetes, etc., etc. It was scary! Now, over a year later, I'm still getting "information" about my supposed diabetes!

Stiff Man said...

I just went through all this with a national chain pharmacy (three letters in the name)and my insurance company (when you sing The National Anthem, you sing their name).

Letters to both asking for an explanation and removal from any lists sold to marketers went un-answered.

Telephone calls were met with, "We don't sell anyone's prescription information nor their personal data." The insurance would refer me to the pharmacy in question and the pharmacy would refer me back to the insurance company.

If I missed a dose of medicine I was getting a letter in the mail from my insurance company telling me that I was non-compliant and needed to see my doctor right away. That was followed by the disclaimer of, "But we aren't doctors, just take your meds as your doctor prescribes them." This was then followed up by marketing letters from the insurance company's in-house pharmacy information so that "I wouldn't miss another dose." What?!?

After threatening to contact the Attorney General in my state and to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, finally did all the mailers suddenly stop coming in my mail.