Vermont makes changes to data mining law in attempt to avoid successful challenge

VERMONT Vermont has amended its data mining law to try to avoid constitutional issues that have blocked other states from preventing companies from collecting information on which drugs doctors prescribe most often and then selling the information to pharmaceutical companies, according to published reports.

IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health and Verispan are challenging Vermont to block the state from enacting laws to prevent the collection and disclosure of the information. A similar New Hampshire law was struck down in U.S. District Court in April on constitutional grounds of violating the guarantee of free speech. Maine was also the subject of a similar trial and lost as well.

To prevent a similar result, Vermont lawmakers suggested the following changes, some of which are part of a new “corrections” bill being proposed to the legislature:

  • Vermont’s law allows doctors to opt into having their Rx information shared.
  • Vermont assistant attorney general Julie Brill and others recommended deleting a provision that had required manufacturers to provide physicians who opted into the system with evidence-based information about other products in the same therapeutic class.
  • Some “relatively minor” language changes are being suggested through the corrections bill to the data mining provisions as well as to the consumer fraud section of the statute, which would have allowed Vermont to bring a cause if a manufacturer receives a warning letter from the FDA.

“We are seeking to make some changes so that the law will stand a better chance of passing constitutional muster,” said Brill, who worked on the legislation.

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