Vermont Amends Data Mining Law

Jan 30, 2008

After waging battle for months, Vermont has decided to amend a new law that would ban data mining companies from gathering physician-prescribing information. The announcement comes after similar legislation in New Hampshire and Maine was rebuked in court.

Companies such as IMS Health and Verispan resell the data to pharmaceutical companies and government agencies. According to the three states, the new law would help curb rising healthcare costs, but so far they have had a hard time proving it in court.

Rather than lose the battle, Vermont is modifying the law as follows:

  • The state will delay the law until September 2008, so that opt-in forms can be sent to physicians with normal licensing forms.
  • A provision will be deleted that required manufacturers to provide physicians who opted in to the system with evidence-based information about other products in the same therapeutic class.
  • Minor language changes were suggested to bring a cause if a manufacturer receives a warning letter from FDA.

"They don't seem to be able to implement the law," said Randy Frankel, VP external affairs at IMS Health. "They don't seem to be able to support it in the courts and are obviously trying to adjust to the situation."

The judges in both the New Hampshire and Maine cases indicated that the data was valuable. One judge indicated that patient care would be compromised and another said that the data is valuable.

"I believe these amendments are intended to bolster their position, although we don't believe any of the amendments they are suggesting in any way change the outcome," Frankel said. "These laws are misguided and will cause more harm than good, in respect to patient care. We would welcome a repeal of these laws and would much rather work with [the states] than have to deal with this situation in the court."