As of today, your pharmacist is not allowed to share your prescription information for marketing purposes. That would change if Senate Bill 1096 is passed into law.
As with most efforts by commercial interests to undermine state privacy laws, this is being advertised as an attempt to help you.
Don’t buy it.
SB1096, authored by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, is being pushed by Adheris Inc., a company that collects money from pharmacists with additional financial support from pharmaceutical companies for the "service" of mailing reminders to patients to take their medicine or refill their prescriptions.
Adheris provides this service in other states, but is constrained in California because of its strict medical privacy laws.
Under Calderon’s bill, pharmacists could share that information with Adheris unless a patient specifically "opted out."
One of the concerns of opponents — which include the California Medical Association and consumer and privacy groups — is the potential for abuse when a patient’s records end up in the hands of a third-party marketing firm. A company like Adheris, with ties to the pharmaceutical industry, is "likely to directly or indirectly encourage a patient to stay on a branded medication, even if a cheaper generic is available, and even if a patient’s doctor advises using the generic," the group Consumer Watchdog warned in a letter to the Assembly Health Committee against SB1096.
Another concern, obviously, is the vulnerability of medical records to security breaches.
Supporters of the bill — which specifically lists the mental and physical conditions that would apply — said these reminders could save lives, as well as millions of dollars in unnecessary hospitalizations and other medical procedures.
In some cases, they might. Some Californians might want the reminders, and not worry about the possibility of data breaches or marketing pitches. But the bottom line is that the standard for the sharing of such sensitive personal medical information should be "opt in." SB1096, which will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, should be rejected.