Court may reinstate prescription 'data mining' ban in NH

In mid-2007, a court struck down New Hampshire law banning the practice of collecting data on physician prescribing patterns and selling it to pharmaceutical company marketing departments. It sided with the so-called "data mining" companies, such as IMS Health, Verispan and McKesson Corp., who argued that the ban infringed on their free-speech rights. Not long after, a less-stringent Maine law also was overturned, leading some observers to conclude that such laws weren't going to make it nationally.

However, a federal judge in Boston is now considering the case in response to the state of New Hampshire's appeal, a decision that, if made in favor of New Hampshire's outright data-mining ban, could embolden other states to take similar steps. In fact, according to one tally, as many as 18 states could file such measures if New Hampshire's law is reinstated by the federal court.

While in theory, the legal environment hasn't changed significantly since New Hampshire passed its law in 2006, the political climate has, analysts note. Since that time, states and healthcare entities have increasingly begun to consider measures that limit pharmaceutical marketing efforts, particularly their ability to give lavish gifts to doctors. Some suggest that this trend could encourage states to enact data-mining limits, even if New Hampshire's law doesn't survive.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Associated Press piece

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