In 2011, the United States Supreme Court in Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc. struck down a Vermont law that would restrict the ability of pharmaceutical companies to purchase certain physician-identifiable prescription data without the consent of the prescriber. The law's stated purpose was threefold: to protect the privacy of medical information, to protect the public health and to contain healthcare costs by promoting Vermont's preference in having physicians prescribe more generic drugs. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Vermont law represented a legitimate, common sense regulatory program or a bold attempt to suppress commercial speech when the "message" is disfavored by the state. Striking down the law, the Supreme Court applied a heightened level of First Amendment scrutiny to this commercial transaction and held that the Vermont law was not narrowly tailored to protect legitimate privacy interests.
Prescription Data Mining, Medical Privacy and the First Amendment: The U.S. Supreme Court in Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc.,
Annals Health L.
Available at: http://lawecommons.luc.edu/annals/vol21/iss2/7