Two Senate Democrats introduced an amendment Thursday that would ban the practice of pharmaceutical data mining. Pharmaceutical companies currently purchase pharmacy sales records from third party companies in order to identify doctors who prescribe their drugs and competitor alternatives.
The amendment to the Senate health care bill would ban the sale of pharmacy records for marketing purposes only. Records used to patient safety would still be made available.
Data mining companies argue that without the records pharmaceutical companies would need to dramatically expand their sales force rather than working on a more focused approach that is made specific by the pharmacy data. Proponents of the amendment believe that the marketing drives up health care costs because of the potential for aggressive, target sales of more expensive medications. The version of the bill already passed by the House of Representatives proposed a study of data mining but no initial limitations.