Supreme Court to Rule on Pharma Firm Data Mining

26 April 2011 (Last Updated April 26th, 2011 18:30)

The US Supreme Court will decide on whether to bar doctors from being pitched drugs depending on their prescription habits from name-brand pharmaceutical companies. The landmark case puts the US state of Vermont against companies that have sold prescription information to drug makers

The US Supreme Court will decide on whether to bar doctors from being pitched drugs depending on their prescription habits from name-brand pharmaceutical companies.

The landmark case puts the US state of Vermont against companies that have sold prescription information to drug makers, a practice known as 'data-mining', without prior consent of the doctors.

Although the state has a law to prohibit data-mining, companies that sell the information claim they put valuable drug information into the hands of physicians and a ruling against them would be against their freedom of speech.

Vermont had countered this argument by claiming that the practice violates patient-doctor confidentiality and that it is increasing the cost of prescription drugs, a stance supported by the Obama administration.

The Supreme Court began hearing cases on 26 April, with a decision expected by late June this year.