MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The state is getting strong support
in its efforts to get the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Vermont law that
restricts companies’ use of information about the drugs prescribed by doctors,
said Attorney General William Sorrell.
Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for
“I am very pleased to have the federal government, a
bipartisan group of 35 states and many other respected organizations on our
side as we prepare to defend this important law before the nation’s highest
court,” Sorrell said.
pharmacies must collect information about prescription drugs that include the
prescriber’s name and address; the name, dosage and quantity of the drug; the date
and place the prescription is filled; and the patient’s age and gender. At
issue is a law that restricts what pharmacies can do with that information.
officials say drug companies were using the information as a “covert marketing
tool” and believe that restricting it helps protect medical privacy,
control health care costs by promoting generic drugs and improve public health.
A number of drug companies sued, and in November, a
three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled Vermont’s
law was a restriction on commercial free speech that violated the First
The attorney for one of those companies said they would be
ready for the Supreme Court arguments as well.
“When briefs supporting IMS are filed in roughly a
month, we anticipate receiving overwhelming support from a diverse group of
concerned organizations and individuals,” said Tom Goldstein, lead counsel
for IMS Health, one of the companies that sued Vermont. “Those briefs will make the
point that state laws like Vermont’s,
in addition to violating First Amendment speech protections, do nothing to
reduce health care costs or advance the interests of medical privacy.”