Prescription Data Restriction Laws
U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Vermont Prescription Data Restriction Law
U.S. Supreme Court
On June 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states may not prohibit the use of information about physician healthcare practices in the marketing of medicines. The court’s decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health holds that a Vermont statute violates the First Amendment by banning the voluntary exchange of information on a matter of public importance – improperly restricting the rights of others from using information about physicians’ prescribing practices.
In the 6-3 decision rejecting the Vermont law, the majority stated that, “the First Amendment directs us to be especially skeptical of regulations that seek to keep people in the dark for what the government perceives to be their own good.” Further the majority writes that the “free flow of commercial speech…has great relevance in the fields of medicine and public health where information can save lives.”
- Press Release re: the U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Vermont Prescription Data Restriction Law
- Privacy Not At Issue
- Supreme Court Case is about Patient Care
In July 2006, New Hampshire became the first state in the nation to pass a law banning the commercial sale of prescriber-identifiable data. Proponents said the law would help constrain healthcare costs by slowing down the use of new medicines. Opponents, including IMS, said the law would harm patients, reduce transparency and the free flow of information in healthcare, and was a violation of the constitutional protection of free speech.
Since New Hampshire passed its law, more than 100 similar bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, yet only two were passed into law and none since 2007 when Vermont and Maine joined New Hampshire.
The existing laws in New Hampshire and Maine are likely to be declared unconstitutional or repealed in light of the Supreme Court decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health. More will be known in the coming months.
Here is a Timeline of the legislative and legal events and milestones of the past five years surrounding the data restriction laws.
For more information please visit: www.imsfreespeech.org