Prescription Data Mining

US Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Data Mining Case                       (April 26, 2011) You Know?

  • Since the mid-1990s, pharmaceutical companies have been able to observe and track what doctors prescribe
  • Pharmacies compile databases that show how many and which medications individual physicians prescribe; these databases are sold to Healthcare Information Organizations (HIOs)
  • HIOs combine this information with data from the Physician Masterfile, purchased from the American Medical Association (AMA)
  • Physician Masterfile contains information on virtually every physician in the United States including the two-thirds of physicians who are not AMA members
  • Leading HIO, IMS Health, had revenues of $1.75 billion in 2005 (Steinbrook 2006)
  • The AMA received $44.5 million in 2005 from sales of data from the Masterfile (Steinbrook 2006)
  • Nearly three-quarters of physicians disapprove of this practice (Kaiser Family Foundation 2001)

More Reading:

  1. For sale: physicians’ prescribing data (NEJM)
  2. Prescription Data Mining: A Transparent (-ly absurd) Defense by Verispan (Carlat Psychiatry Blog)
  3. How Drug Companies Look at Your Private Medical Records (BNET)