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American Medical Association sells information on prescribing habits of US doctors; protests planned for meeting in Chicago

Pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers have access to information regarding which medications doctors prescribe for the reason that they are able to buy the information from the American Medical Association (AMA), and from companies that match the AMA’s data with pharmacy records. The AMA is holding its annual meeting in Chicago, where this topic is sure to be raised as an important issue. Some groups are planning to protest during the meeting in front of the Hilton Chicago. The information is being used to increase the sales of newer, more expensive drugs whereas it could be used to improve quality, safety of care, and lower drug prices. Many states, including Illinois, are proposing bills after noticing the correlation between the release of such information and the rising health care costs consumers face. Doctors that are not members of the AMA, about two thirds, are unaware that this information is being released. The AMA is planning to publish ads in medical journals to spread the information to doctors unaware of the fact that they can opt out of this practice.

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