Privacy Advocates Take Issue With California Bill on Pharmacy Mailings
A bill that recently passed in the state Senate to allow drug companies to send patient reminders on refilling prescriptions is drawing concern from patient privacy advocates, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), who is carrying SB 1096, said the bill "merely seeks to clarify current law that prescription compliance program reminder letters are not marketing."
The bill would remove an existing provision that requires patient consent for pharmacies to send information about their medications and replace it with a policy that would permit patients to opt-out of receiving reminders.
The bill also would allow pharmaceutical companies to pay for the mailings if pharmacies disclose that they were compensated for them. Drug makers currently are barred from financing the mailings.
Calderon told legislators that the bill would preserve patients' privacy, but privacy advocates said the bill would allow pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs under the guise of reminder letters.
The bill is sponsored by Adheris, a medical information company facing a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company violated patients' privacy. The suit was filed on behalf of San Diego patients who said their privacy was breached when they received letters encouraging them to buy more medication or to switch to an alternative medication.
Adheris CEO Daniel Rubin said "the lawsuit has no merit."
Calderon has received more than $21,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy chains, according to the Bee (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 6/10).