Albertsons Accused Of Selling Pharmacy Info To Data Miners

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – Albertson’s grocery stores and Cerberus Capital Management violate customers’ medical privacy by selling information about the prescription drugs they buy at Albertson’s cooperating drug stores – including Sav-On and Osco Drugs – so pharmaceutical companies and data-miners can track doctors’ prescription writing practices, a class action claims in Superior Court.

     “Defendants’ use of a patient’s prescription drug information – without the patient’s authorization, knowledge or consent – is part of the marketing campaign undertaken by pharmaceutical companies that use the resulting information to increase prescription drugs sales of their drug products,” the complaint states. “Pharmaceutical companies pay the data mining firms for patient prescription information in order to increase the sale of their drugs. Defendants sell Plaintiff and the Class members’ prescription drug information in order to allow the data mining firms and, in turn, their pharmaceutical company clients to identify the prescription writing habits of doctor(s) (or other care givers) and thereby enhance the pharmaceutical industries’ marketing effectiveness in using huge cadres of representatives, called ‘detail men’ or ‘detail women’ who confront doctors at their places of business armed with the resulting prescription writing profile information and, invariably, use that information to reinforce prescription writing habits or alter their prescription writing regimen.”
     The complaint claims, “Defendants thus enter into contracts with data mining companies that pay them for the patient prescription drug information contained in patient prescriptions that have been entrusted to their retail pharmacies for the purpose, and only the purpose, of filling a patient’s prescription.
     “A lucrative market exists for the data identifying the prescribing practices of individual health care providers – called ‘prescription-identifiable data’. Defendants acquire prescription data in the ordinary course of their pharmacy business. Data mining companies – such as IMS and Verispan – purchase the prescription data from Defendants and have the information identifying individual patients removed before transmission by the data mining company to its pharmaceutical company clients after combining the remaining information with data allowing easy identification by the pharmaceutical company of the doctor prescriber. In selling the resulting data to purchasers, the data miners’ biggest clients by far are large pharmaceutical companies that use the data to develop marketing plans targeted to specific prescribers. …
     “At each Albertsons Pharmacy location, including those located in California, the patient’s prescription data is ultimately aggregated with data from other outlets and stored in a central database maintained, operated and controlled by the Defendants,” the complaint states.
     The complaint claims the pharmacies affiliated with Albertsons include Albertsons, Sav-On Drugs, and Osco Drugs or Jewel-Osco Drugs.
     Named plaintiff Raymond London is represented by Jeffrey Krinsk with Finkelstein & Krinsk.

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