This is a living document; please come back and recheck what has been asked by other learners along with answers from our Subject Matter Experts (SME) .Ask our SMEs a question.

I heard the drug rep for Drug XX says things like:

I noticed you’ve haven’t been prescribing as much Drug XX lately for your patients with high cholesterol. Why is that?

Do they really know what I have been prescribing? Isn’t that confidential?

The sales representatives know about the prescribing practices of the doctors before they come in to see them Personalized prescribing information is sold by pharmacies to large market research firms such as IMS Health and other Healthcare Information Organizations (HIOs). This data is combined with the AMA’s Physician Masterfile data base. The Physician Masterfile contains data on virtually all physicians in the United States whether or not they are members of the AMA (American Medical Association). These two files are correlated and sold back to the pharmaceutical companies, allowing the representatives to target their sales promotion.

A study by the Kaiser family foundation (National Survey of Physicians Part II: Doctors and Prescription Drugs) found that close to three quarters of physicians disapprove of this process. The AMA has responded by creating athe Prescribing Data Restriction Program (PDRP) that allows providers to opt out of the use of their private prescribing information. However groups like the National Physician Alliance are pressing for greater legislative protection noting loopholes in the protection afford by opting out.

Steinbrook R. For sale: physicians’ prescribing data. N Engl J Med. Jun 29 2006;354(26):2745-2747.