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Data-mining restrictions on prescriptions unconstitutional

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
All states allow pharmacies to collect and pass on data about the prescription-writing habits of physicians.
All states allow pharmacies to collect and pass on data about the prescription-writing habits of physicians.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Court says laws violated commercial speech protections
  • Three states had banned the use of the information
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Washington (CNN) -- State laws that would block "data mining" companies from marketing information about doctors' prescriptions were struck down by the Supreme Court Thursday, a potentially far-reaching case testing the conflicting boundaries over commercial speech and consumer protection.

All states allow pharmacies to collect and pass on data about the prescription-writing habits of physicians. But three states -- Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont -- enacted laws in recent years creating a specific exception to that distribution: banning any use or publication of the information for "marketing purposes" of brand-name medicine. Drug companies use these prescription patterns to tailor their sales pitches to doctors.

The high court by a 6-3 vote said those restrictions violated commercial speech protections.