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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Wiley Rein's Kirk Nahra Discusses Supreme Court Ruling in Sorrell v. IMS Health

June 23, 2011

Privacy Practice chair Kirk Nahra commented on a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a Vermont state law prohibiting the use of patients' prescription drug records for marketing purposes. At issue in Sorrell v. IMS Health was a section of Vermont's Confidentiality of Prescription Information statute that prohibits health care analytics and pharmaceutical companies from using prescriber identifiable data to facilitate the marketing or promotion of name brand prescription medicines.

"From the privacy perspective, the court rejected the efforts of Vermont and others to turn this case into a privacy case, and focused instead on the impact of the law as a commercial speech issue," said Mr. Nahra on the Court's 6-3 ruling. "There are many current means of regulating patient privacy directly, and it would not have been useful to the overall protection of patient privacy to address these issues in an essentially unrelated context, through the back door."

Wiley Rein filed an amicus curiae brief with the Court on behalf of the Genetic Alliance and the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) in support of the respondents in Sorrell.