For Immediate Release
November 18, 2008
Assistant Attorney General Laura E. Lombardi
Associate Attorney General Richard W. Head
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced today that the First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Prescription Information Law is constitutional. In doing so, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's decision that found the law unconstitutional.
In 2006, House Bill 1346 was passed as a measure to control health care costs in New Hampshire, to protect the health and safety of New Hampshire's citizens, and to protect the privacy of doctors and patients who use prescription drugs. Before the Prescription Information Law came into effect, data mining companies were able to purchase from pharmacies information about what individual physicians prescribed to their patients. The law that was upheld today by the First Circuit Court of Appeals prohibits the transfer of a physician's prescribing history for use in pharmaceutical marketing or other commercial purposes.
Two data mining companies, IMS Health, Inc. and Verispan, LLC, challenged the law under several theories, including free speech and the commerce clause. The District Court found the Law worked an unconstitutional abridgment of free speech and enjoined its enforcement. In reversing the District Court, the First Circuit wrote "In combating this novel threat to the cost effective delivery of health care, New Hampshire has acted with as much forethought and precision as the circumstances permit and the Constitution demands."
Attorney General Ayotte said: "The law was passed to help offset the spiraling cost of health care in this State. The State, and all of New Hampshire's consumers, will hopefully benefit from this decision by reduced health care costs." The Attorney General also stated that "Consumers can be assured that when they fill a prescription at their local pharmacy, the information contained in that prescription will not subsequently be sold to data mining companies for commercial purposes."
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