Federal Appeals Court Upholds Maine Prescription Privacy Law

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Maine law that bans the sale of prescriber-identifiable prescription drug data for marketing purposes. Data mining companies had challenged the law, claiming that the privacy measure violated their free speech rights, an argument that the court rejected because "the statute regulates conduct, not speech, and even if it regulates commercial speech, that regulation satisfies constitutional standards." The decision in IMS Health v. Mills followed a decision by a panel of the same court in IMS Health v. Ayotte, upholding a similar law in New Hampshire. In that case, as well as in a similar case regarding a Vermont law, EPIC and several privacy and technology experts filed "friend of the court" briefs arguing that there is a substantial state interest in privacy protection and that the data miners' de-identification practices do not, in fact, protect patient privacy. A decision in the Vermont case is expected soon. For more information, see IMS Health v. Ayotte, IMS Health v. Sorrell.

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