The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has been in the forefront in asserting that pharmacies -- and their marketing partners, the big pharmaceutical companies -- act improperly when using the medical information in customer prescriptions to mail letters or call customers in order to sell more drugs.
In the case of Albertsons, a supermarket powerhouse operating in 33 states that owned the Sav-On, Osco and Jewel-Osco pharmacies (until recently sold), it proceeds with such programs without customer permission while converting personal prescription information into a highly sophisticated, retrievable database. It does not inform the customer’s doctor about what it is doing.
The database allows Albertsons to personally identify you by name, telephone number, address and drugs prescribed. This allows communications to be sent based on your medical condition as implied by the information in your prescription. Albertsons developed a highly profitable business in this way, filling more than 100 million prescriptions a year, based on your confidential medical information combined with your name and address.
PRC filed a lawsuit to put an end to these practices. It alleges that Albertsons’ activities in retrieving your confidential medical information to sell more drugs by sending personally addressed communications to your home, without your consent, violate your privacy.
In fact, thousands of Albertsons customers received letters or calls asking for the renewal of your prescription or suggesting you try a new drug. This may have occurred years ago with the communication often designed as a “refill reminder” from your “friendly family pharmacist”.
If this happened to you or someone in your family, please let us know. It could be very helpful to the outcome of the lawsuit.
For an example of such pharmacy marketing -- this from Dominicks, a large nationwide chain -- click here.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization based in San Diego, CA.