California bill may allow pharmacies to sell patient information

NEW YORK Under a controversial bill introduced into California’s state Senate, pharmacies would be allowed to sell patients’ prescription information to drug marketers, while pharmaceutical companies could send direct-mail advertisements to patients.

Proponents of the bill, who include pharmaceutical marketers, have said that it is designed to remind patients to fill their prescriptions and take their medicines. Opponents, who include physicians and consumer advocacy groups, have called it an invasion of privacy that could be harmful to patients receiving mailings inconsistent with doctors’ and pharmacists’ recommendations.

The Senate will vote on the bill Thursday.

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