March 17th, 2011

Is Your Drugstore Selling Your Private Information to Big Pharma?

Mother Jones

For years, the big drugstore chains have stoutly denied selling prescription information—patient names, contact information, doctors’ names, and prescription details—to pharmaceutical companies for marketing use. Now, that charade has come to an end with two class action suits, accusing CVS and Walgreen of doing just that.

In a civil suit in Philadelphia County Court, as Courthouse News reports, the city’s teachers union charged that consumers got unsolicited sales pitches after CVS allegedly sold customers’ private information to Eli Lilly and Co., Merck, AstraZeneca, Bayer, and other drug manufacturers. The union’s claim states:

“Specifically, in exchange for the receipt of funds, direct promotional letters were sent to physicians of consumers by defendant CVS Caremark in order to promote and tout specific prescription drugs of pharmaceutical manufacturers who contracted with defendant CVS Caremark” for use of prescription information, according to the complaint. 

“While touted as an ‘RXReview Program’ by defendant CVS Caremark, in reality, the physician communications were nothing more than a profit-making opportunity,” the class claims.

CVS’s scheme contradicts its “public pronouncements as to the sanctity of both consumers’ privacy and the physician-patient relationship,” according to the complaint.

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