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PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT OF 1993

Executive Summary

PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT OF 1993, introduced by Rep. Stark (D-Calif.) March 25, would make it illegal to circulate, buy or sell prescription drug information without the consent of the consumer. In a statement accompanying the bill, Stark indicated that the legislation has been modified from a 1992 version to protect patients who participate in pharmaceutical companies' product promotions. "Prescription drug freebies are a booming business practice aimed at luring consumers, doctors and pharmacists to brandname drug products," Stark said. "Whether you call them gifts, incentives, memory-joggers, newsletters or coupons, it's clear that these enticements can cost consumers something they never realized -- the privacy of their medical history." Under current law, Stark said, drug manufacturers have the right to sell the medical information they gather through their marketing efforts. While pharmaceutical companies may say that patient privacy is respected, Stark asked, "how can we impart our privacy to them when they allow marketing firms to manage these lists?" Stark cited instances of the use of purchased drug records by employers to fire or refuse to hire employees. Protection of patient confidentiality has been endorsed as one of ten Principles of Pharmacy Services and Pharmacy Care in Health Care Reform by the Community Retail Pharmacy Health Care Reform Coalition, an organization formed by NARD and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The pharmacy coalition announced March 31 that it has "forwarded to the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform 10 principles to maximize the provision of pharmacy services and pharmacy care in a reformed health care system." The 10 principles expand on the four key health care reform principles that the coalition's leaders have espoused in meetings with White House advisor Ira Magaziner and the health care task force ("The Pink Sheet" March 8, p. 9). Professional pharmacy services appropriately include patient monitoring and drug product selection, as well as drug utilization review, patient counseling, intervention and problem resolution, and establishing and maintaining a Patient Profile System, the coalition's principles state. "Mandatory use of the uniform national electronic transmission standard" will maximize the ability of pharmacists to do their job. The coalition endorses giving pharmacists access to relevant patient information to support their professional judgment and provision of patient services. It also calls for empowering pharmacists "to exercise their professional expertise in making medication-related judgments in collaboration with other health care providers." NACDS President and CEO Ronald Ziegler, speaking on behalf of the coalition, said, "We are in the process of submitting very detailed proposals to the health care task force covering all aspects of our principles in operational detail." He indicated that reimbursement of pharmacists would be included in the proposal. The cost savings that would result from expanding the role of pharmacists would "ultimately" pay "the pharmacists for the services that they're providing," Ziegler suggested. Robert Waspe, NACDS Senior VP-Government Affairs and General Counsel, emphasized that the reimbursement the coalition envisions under health care reform is not that of state Medicaid reimbursement. "We are talking about using the marketplace, the open competitive marketplace, as the benchmark for reimbursement," he said. "And that reimbursement will incorporate the reimbursement to pharmacists which is appropriate not only for the product cost but also for the professional services they receive."
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