IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health and Verispan Challenge State Laws Restricting Access to Critical Healthcare Information
With the goal of maintaining greater transparency and the free flow of information in the nation's healthcare system, three leading health information companies - IMS Health, Wolters Kluwer Health, through its subsidiary Source Healthcare Analytics, Inc., and Verispan LLC - today filed lawsuits in the U.S. District Courts for Maine and Vermont challenging new state laws that restrict the collection and disclosure of physician prescribing information.
Augusta, ME and Montpelier, VT (PRWEB) October 3, 2007 -- With the goal of maintaining greater transparency and the free flow of information in the nation's healthcare system, three leading health information companies - IMS Health (NYSE: RX), Wolters Kluwer Health, through its subsidiary Source Healthcare Analytics, Inc., and Verispan LLC - on August 29 filed lawsuits in the U.S. District Courts for Maine (IMS Health Incorporated v. Rowe, No. 1:07-cv-00127-JAW, U.S. District Court for Maine) and Vermont (IMS Health Incorporated v. Sorrell, No. 2:07-cv-188-jgm, U.S. District Court for Vermont) challenging new state laws that restrict the collection and disclosure of physician prescribing information.
The plaintiffs are seeking a court order to enjoin enforcement of the statutes, which take effect Jan. 1, 2008, and deny access to information that is central to improving the quality of care and ensuring patient safety. The statutes are based on New Hampshire's "Prescription Restraint Law," which was struck down as unconstitutional in U.S. District Court in April 2007 (IMS Health Inc. v. Ayotte 06-CV-280-PB).
According to the plaintiffs, the statutes conflict with the national movement toward greater transparency in healthcare practices and with the ruling handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro in New Hampshire earlier this year.
"The new laws in Vermont and Maine will have the same unintended consequences as the one in New Hampshire, blocking vital healthcare information from public view while doing nothing to drive down prescription drug costs or improve the health and well-being of citizens. In fact, it's very likely they will have the opposite effect," said Randy Frankel, IMS vice president, External Affairs. "While we would have preferred to work with both states on alternatives, they have chosen instead to follow the same path as New Hampshire. We feel we have no choice but to protect access to this essential information by opposing any legislation of this nature."
In the state filings, the three companies reiterated their strong, unqualified support for patient privacy, noting that the prescribing information each collects is anonymized and does not reveal individual patient health records.
"Protecting patient privacy is fundamental to the way our industry operates," added Frankel. "The problem with the Maine and Vermont statutes is that they create an entirely new and unprecedented privacy right for physicians in their professional conduct, and impair the public and private sectors' ability to measure trends and progress in the healthcare system. Improving our healthcare system depends on access to more information, not less."
Prescribing information is used by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical device manufacturers, providers, government agencies, academia and researchers to monitor and manage the safety of medications, implement drug recalls, rapidly communicate information to doctors about innovative new treatments and conduct public health studies. It also helps educate healthcare providers about the prescribing practices associated with certain medications to ensure that the right doctors receive relevant, timely information about drugs and have the knowledge they need to make the right choices for their patients.
"There is no evidence that restricting access to prescriber-level information will drive down costs," said Dr. Ernst Berndt, professor of Applied Economics and co-director of the Center for Biomedical Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Public health and safety, as well as patient outcomes, are enhanced when physician prescribing behavior can be readily monitored and assessed. Knowing how physicians respond to information about major medical developments, for example, enables the FDA, CDC and other public health authorities, as well as payers and the biopharmaceutical industry, to understand how the practice of medicine is influenced by public policies and new medical knowledge."
Over the past few years, more than two dozen other states have considered legislation comparable to Maine's and Vermont's, and have rejected it. Moreover, the U.S. District Court decision in New Hampshire clarified that the Constitution protects the dissemination of provider-identifiable information. The laws in Maine and Vermont differ only slightly from the New Hampshire law, and, according to the plaintiffs, the cosmetic differences do not address the constitutional defects cited in the New Hampshire judgment.
Operating in more than 100 countries, IMS Health is the world's leading provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. With $2.0 billion in 2006 revenue and more than 50 years of industry experience, IMS offers leading-edge market intelligence products and services that are integral to clients' day-to-day operations, including portfolio optimization capabilities; launch and brand management solutions; sales force effectiveness innovations; managed care and consumer health offerings; and consulting and services solutions that improve ROI and the delivery of quality healthcare worldwide. Additional information is available at www.imshealth.com.
About Wolters Kluwer Health
Wolters Kluwer Health (Conshohocken, PA), a division of Wolters Kluwer, is a leading provider of information for professionals and students in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry. Major brands include traditional publishers of medical and drug reference tools and textbooks, such as Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and Facts & Comparisons; electronic information providers, such as Ovid Technologies, Medi-Span and ProVation; and pharmaceutical information providers Adis International and SourceÂ®. For more information, visit www.wkhealth.com.
Wolters Kluwer is a leading global information services and publishing company. The company provides products and services for professionals in the health, tax, accounting, corporate, financial services, legal and regulatory sectors. Wolters Kluwer has 2006 annual revenues of %u20AC3.7 billion, employs approximately 19,900 people worldwide and maintains operations across Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on the Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. For more information, visit www.wolterskluwer.com.
Verispan, a healthcare informatics joint venture of Quintiles Transnational Corp. and McKesson Corp., provides a broad array of information products and services to the healthcare industry, including sales targeting and compensation products; market research audits; healthcare profiles; comprehensive managed care offerings; data integration, warehousing and mining; data analysis and consulting; direct mail; list services; disease management studies; clinical trial investigator targeting and protocol recruitment evaluation; healthcare outcomes; and cost/benefit analyses, among many others. Verispan is also the nation's leading provider of patient-centric longitudinal data, with dozens of products used by clients spanning the industry.
Headquartered in Yardley, Pa., Verispan employs over 500 dedicated healthcare information professionals. The company's Web site is www.verispan.com.