Supreme Court Hints That Vermont’s Prescription Data Laws Violate Free Speech

Several Supreme Court justices strongly suggested recently during oral arguments that Vermont’s attempt to restrict the use of drug prescription records for marketing purposes violates corporate free-speech rights. Vermont’s law is aimed at so-called data miners, companies that buy prescription records from pharmacies — minus patient identifying information — and sell them to drug makers.

The drug companies use the information to target doctors to try to persuade them to order the companies' products. Vermont Assistant Attorney General Bridget C. Asay told the court that the state’s interest is to “allow doctors to decide whether this information that they’re compelled to provide to pharmacies may be used in marketing that is directed at them.”

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