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Bill Allowing Medical Privacy Intrusion Fails in Sacramento; Anti-Privacy Bill by Auto Insurers Faces Vote Wednesday
Date:6/17/2008

Consumer Watchdog Hails Assembly Push Against Sale of Patients' Prescription Information to Marketers; "Big Pharma's Lobbying Steamroller Is Out of Gas," Says Advocate.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A bill allowing marketers hired by drug companies to secretly access patient prescription drug records failed to get a single "yes" in a key vote Tuesday in the Assembly Health Committee. Though some members who did not vote could technically cast votes before the end of the day, the failure of the measure (SB1096 by Sen. Charles Calderon), appeared assured.

On Wednesday, the Senate Banking, Finance & Insurance Committee will vote on Assemblyman Jared Huffman's AB 2800, which would allow insurance companies to install "spyware" on customers' cars that is capable of tracking mileage, where the car drives, and braking and acceleration rates.

On the pharmacy bill, Assembly committee members Tuesday seemed to respond to growing public scrutiny and outcry over looming privacy threats, especially after the bill passed the Senate, said Consumer Watchdog.

"Big Pharma's lobbying steamroller ran out of gas in the Assembly," said Jerry Flanagan, health policy director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog. "Members of the Health Committee expressed their view that the bill was a misleading measure to push expensive brand-name drugs on consumers while violating their privacy."

Many members of the committee did not vote at all, but no members called out a "Yes" vote during the hearing Monday, chaired by Asm. Mervin Dymally.

Under the measure, pharmacies could sell patient prescription records to a third-party company working on behalf of major pharmaceuticals manufacturers. The third-party company, called Adheris, would then send out mailings to patients "reminding" them to take their name-brand drugs.

During the hearing, Flanagan made the following points:

-- Privacy is a fundam
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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