Use of Physician Prescribing Information

Sorrell v. IMS Healthcare Inc., 131 S. Ct. 2653 (2011). This United States Supreme Court decision strikes down a Vermont law prohibiting the sale, disclosure and use of pharmacy records that reveal the prescribing practices of individual doctors for use in the marketing of drugs.1 This data is frequently used by pharmaceutical companies to target physicians for detailing and other marketing activities.  

Sorrell was fought over a Vermont law and has implications for other states, as well. In 2007, Vermont passed a law that prohibited pharmacies from sharing physician-specific prescribing patterns with companies that would, in turn, help brand-name drug manufacturers target their sales to those doctors. Vermont intended to protect doctors from intrusive marketing, which could drive up health care costs if doctors prescribe more expensive brand-name drugs. Maine and New Hampshire passed similar laws, but in light of the Sorrell decision, the Maine attorney general agreed that the Maine law should be declared unconstitutional, and the New Hampshire attorney general agreed that the Sorrell decision rendered the New Hampshire law unenforceable.2