U.S. Supreme Court Hears Vermont Data Mining Case
By Pat Bradley
Washington, D.C. – Drug makers use the information data from the third party sellers to tailor their sales to individual doctors. Vermont law prevents these so-called data mining sales without the doctors' permission. But the companies that filed suit against the state say it violates their commercial free speech rights. Vermont Medical Society filed an amicus brief supporting the Vermont law. Executive Vice President Paul Harrington...... (audio cut) AARP Vermont supports the Vermont law. Executive Director Gregory Marchildon...... (audio cut) IMS Health and the other companies suing the state of Vermont did not have representatives available for comment, but released a statement regarding the oral arguments: "We hope the Justices will ultimately agree .... that laws like Vermont's violate ... free speech and harm patients by making it more difficult to communicate with doctors timely and often vital information about new medicine and safety updates on existing medicine." Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice Office for Professional Education and Outreach Medical Director Dr. William Weeks filed an amicus brief on behalf of the drug companies - but his point was not to argue commercial free speech nor privacy issues..... (audio cut) Maine and New Hampshire have laws similar to Vermont's. Maine Legislator Sharon Treat is also Executive Director of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices. She was at the Supreme Court observing the arguments...... (audio cut) Chief Justice John Roberts at one point said Vermont's law seemed to be ``censoring'' what doctors could hear. A decision from the high court is expected in June.