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Sponsor of Drug Bill Rejected by CA Senate Today Changed Its Name After Privacy Violations
Date:5/22/2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Senate rejected a bill today sponsored by a drug marketing firm that was forced to change its name after privacy violations. See Washington Post coverage below.

The bill, SB 1096 (Calderon), which was granted a second chance to pass the Senate and will be voted on again next week, would create a loophole in existing law which bars the sharing of private medical information -- including a patient's illnesses and prescribed medications -- without a patient's prior consent.

"The California Constitution protects the privacy of all Californians. At a minimum, patients must be asked and give consent before their medical records are traded or sold. As personal information -- medical, financial and domestic -- becomes an increasingly available and valuable commodity for the corporations that buy and sell it, consumers are more vulnerable to unscrupulous marketers, identity thieves and corrupt corporations," said Jerry Flanagan, Health Care Policy Director for Consumer Watchdog. "We urge the Senate to continue to oppose this measure unless it is amended to require a patient's informed consent prior to the transfer of private medical information."

In the last 2 years, the bill author, Senator Ronald Calderon, has received at least $21,690 from drug companies and others that will benefit from the legislation.

The bill would allow companies like Adheris, the bill sponsor, to access patients' prescription drug purchases, putatively only for the purpose of communicating with patients to increase "adherence" to the scheduled regimen. The bill is premised on the idea that mailed reminders will help ensure that patients take their medications. The bill sponsor provides no evidence to support the claim. Further, if in fact a reminder to take medication was the goal of the bill, the pharmacy itself could send the reminder without necessitating the transfer of private medical data
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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