CVS Pharmacy Sued for Violating Patient Privacy

by jeeg 5. October 2010 23:26

CVS Pharmacy is being sued for violating HIPAA, a federal law designed to safeguard patients' personal and identifiable information.

Six other pharmacies in the state of Texas have filed a lawsuit against CVS Caremark, the parent company of CVS Pharmacy, alleging that the company does not have a proper firewall separating its private pharmacy data from its business marketing unit, as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

CVS has been collecting data on patients and their prescribing physicians for marketing purposes since 2009, claims the lawsuit, thereby compromising private information, including demographics, medical history, health plan details, and prescription preferences.

The plaintiff pharmacies further allege that CVS has been calling their customers and physicians in order to persuade them to switch over to CVS care.

"CVS Caremark contacts patients via direct mail and phone calls about their prescriptions, urging, and in some cases mandating, plaintiffs’ patients to use CVS Caremark retail or mail order stores," reads the plaintiffs’ statement. "The patients' physicians also are targeted to change prescribing practices to include drugs from CVS Caremark-favored drug makers."

CVS Caremark maintains that "its business practices and service offerings, which are designed to reduce health care costs and expand consumer choice, are being conducted in compliance with applicable antitrust, privacy, and other laws."

This is not the first time CVS has come under fire for failing to protect patient privacy. The pharmacy chain paid out $2.25 million in penalty fees in early 2009 to settle previous charges related to improper use of private patient information.

In the land of "innocent until proven guilty," it may be a bit premature to jump to any conclusions regarding the current allegations. However, it would be very disconcerting if CVS is found to have continued illegal private data mining after settling the previous charges.


By Jules Shan, Gather Business


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