Calif. Senate OKs sale of pharmacy records

Pharmacy records could soon become an open book in California. Yesterday, the state Senate passed a bill allowing pharmacies to sell patient info to third-party firms working for drugmakers. If the measure makes through the State Assembly--and past the governor--pharma companies could market directly to patients suffering from cancer, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, et al. All drugmakers would have to do is contract with a mailing firm, which would in turn pay pharmacies for the data.

The bill's sponsor says it's intended to allow pharma to encourage patients to take their meds like they're supposed to. But critics say it would violate patient privacy and raise the risk of medical identity theft. Pharmacy customers would be able to "opt out" of releasing their records under a provision added to the bill after a first vote rejected it.

- read the story in the San Francisco Chronicle
- get more in yesterday's backgrounder, also in the Chronicle