Earlier this year, six scientists and doctors filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration alleging that the FDA had secretly monitored their personal e-mail accounts after they (legally) warned Congress that the "agency was approving medical devices that they believed posed unacceptable risks to patients." The agency said it had done so to "investigate allegations that the employees had leaked confidential information to the public." At the time, the FDA indicated their computer monitoring was limited to five scientists. But now, the New York Times is reporting that "what began as a narrow investigation" "quickly grew in mid-2010 into a much broader campaign to counter outside critics of the agency’s medical review process.". [more inside]
Bob Boorstin, Google's Director of Policy Communications, wrote a letter to the Rose Foundation, suggesting that the foundation stop funding Consumer Watchdog, an outspoken Google critic. [more inside]
A new medical bill payment reporting system called MedFICO is said to be going live this summer. This system is being developed by the health care industry in an effort to judge a patient's ability to pay. Healthcare Analytics, a healthcare actuarial company, is developing the score in conjunction with Tenet Healthcare, credit scoring company Fair Issac, and venture capitalists. [more inside]
Just Say No To Drug Stores. As we've previously discussed, drug companies aggressively market to doctors and consumers. In September, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse sued supermarket chain Albertsons for allegedly violating consumer rights by being paid to promote the products of pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca with calls and letters based on personal prescription history. If you've been pitched by your drugstore, the PRC would like to know (confidentially, of course).
Pregnancy test results are not considered part of confidential medical records. Why, you say? Because the cops wanted to find out who dumped an abandoned baby, and subpoenaed Planned Parenthood's records to see who had gotten positive pregnancy test results recently. The rationale for the judge's ruling? "...the records aren't medical records because the staff who provide pregnancy tests aren't required to be doctors or nurses."