PORTLAND, Maine — A federal appeals panel has upheld the constitutionality of a Maine law restricting medical data companies' access to doctors' prescription information.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled this week on Maine's law after previously upholding a similar New Hampshire law making doctors' prescription-writing habits confidential. Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to New Hampshire's law, allowing that statute to stand.
Three companies that collect, analyze and sell medical data for use in pharmaceutical companies' marketing programs challenged the law.
"The plaintiffs suggested that this law chills their commercial free speech. All our law does is protect the privacy of doctors who prescribe medications," Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said yesterday.
In IMS Health Inc. v. Mills, the three-judge panel found that the companies’ free-speech challenges failed because “the statute regulates conduct, not speech, and even if it regulates commercial speech, that regulation satisfies constitutional standards.”
Tom Julin, who represented the companies, said they wouldn't decide whether to file an appeal until after the 2nd Circuit rules on a similar law in Vermont. That decision is expected in a matter of days, he said.
The Maine law was aimed ...