Some AMA Members ‘Fed Up’ with Sale of Prescription Data
"Fed up" with "pressure" from the drug industry, some members of the American Medical Association have asked the group to consider "legal remedies" to protect the privacy of their prescribing information, the Chicago Tribune reports. The AMA sells information about the treatments that doctors prescribe to drug companies, which use the data to develop "physician profiles" and "target their sales" to doctors. Several doctors at the AMA's winter meeting in Chicago yesterday called drug marketing programs based on physician profiles "an invasion of their privacy" that often leads to "unwanted harassment by drug sales representatives pushing the industry's latest -- and often most costly -- treatments." AMA members last year passed a measure that called on the group's leaders to address drug industry "profiling" of doctors, but some doctors said yesterday that the leaders have "ignored their pleas."
In a report distributed this week, members of the AMA board of trustees told doctors that they do not plan to take "legal action" against drug companies. The board said that the information provided to drug makers to help develop physician profiles also may help warn doctors about "drug recalls and other safety information." The board also described cases of "harassment" by drug companies as "isolated" and warned that the group could lose more than $20 million per year "if it is forced to stop selling the data to drug companies." The Tribune reports that AMA officials plan to meet with "undisclosed pharmaceutical companies" to develop best-practice guidelines for sales representatives and urge the representatives to use information about physicians "appropriately." However, some doctors accused the AMA of "trying to avoid a conflict with the drug industry" and "watering down" member requests to end the sale of the information (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 12/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.