Why Bloomberg and AP want your medical records
Jim Edwards of BNET.com writes about how some big media companies have filed briefs in a U.S. Supreme Court case considering whether pharmaceutical companies have the right to obtain prescription drug data.
The briefs have been filed by Associated Press, Bloomberg News, McGraw-Hill, Hearst Corp., and the investigative non-profit group ProPublica (among others) in one brief; and trade publishing group American Business Media and Reed Elsevier in another.
Edwards writes, “Now imagine that data in the hands of the media. I’m an infamous First Amendment absolutist — I spent four years litigating to force a New York court to open documents describing corruption on Madison Avenue — but even I am not sure that the press should be able to figure out what your local senator or pop star most recently went to the doctor for.
“The media firms know this, too. The AP/Bloomberg/Propublica brief devotes several pages to the awesomeness of their own database-sifting skills. They claim there is a ‘public interest’ in monitoring prescription drug databases in order to detect adverse events from bad drugs. This is true — but the FDA already maintains the gold standard database for that information, and it’s already available to the public.
“Even if there were some public interest advantage to giving the media access to Rx information, it would come coupled with the pharmaceutical industry’s continued access to the same. I can assure you that Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Merck et al.’s interest in these databases will be far more enduring, better resourced, more granular and more thorough than Bloomberg’s will ever be.”
Read more here.