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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16971

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Heavey S
UPDATE 1-Drug data mining ban unlikely in Senate health bill
Reuters 2009 Dec 14


  • No vote seen for “prescription mining” proposal
  • Staffer: supports not giving up, hope to see ban later
  • Ban would have hit IMS, other drug data companies

Full text:

A Democratic proposal to ban the collection of doctors’ prescription records for marketing purposes is unlikely to be included as part of the Senate’s overall health reform bill, a Senate staff member said on Monday.

A member of the staff of Senator Herb Kohl, a main sponsor of the amendment, said the change was not likely to come up for a vote or be included as part of a package of changes to be offered later by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“We don’t think it’s likely that the … amendment will come to a vote or be included in the manager’s amendment,” the staff member told Reuters on the condition of not being named since debate on the bill is not finished.

Dozens of amendments have been offered as part of the Senate’s legislation to overhaul the nation’s $2.5 trillion healthcare system, President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority. There have been few votes on such changes so far but Democratic senators vowed to finish work on the bill as soon as this week.

A ban on so-called “data mining” would have a huge impact on pharmaceutical data companies such as IMS Health (RX.N) and McKesson Corp’s (MCK.N) Verispan that collect and sell such data for a variety of uses.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers in particular use information on doctor’s prescribing habits to better inform their drug salespeople when they visit physician offices to market certain products.

IMS has said such data from doctors and other providers is used to help monitor safety issues, reduce costs and for other research purposes.

“Provider level information is a critical resource,” a spokesman for IMS said.

Shares of the company sank on Friday following news of the proposed amendment before later recovering. Shares of the company closed up 1.65 percent at $20.38 on Monday.

Kim Monk, a financial analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, said the ban, if included, would have drawn fire from other Democrats and upset a crucial deal with the pharmaceutical industry.

Drugmakers earlier this year made an $80 billion, 10-year deal with the Obama administration and some Senate Democrats to help fund an expansion of health insurance coverage through additional taxes and certain price agreements.

“Reid has bigger policy concerns,” Monk said in a research note on Friday.

The American Medical Association, which represents physicians and also backs the Democrat’s overhaul agenda, also generates revenue from its collection of prescribing data and likely would have balked at the proposal’s inclusion.

While Kohl’s ban is unlikely now, supporters will continue to push for the measure in other ways, the senator’s staff member said. “We hope it happens at some point.”


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909