A federal judge ruled yesterday that the pharmaceutical industry could continue to use computerized data showing which doctors are prescribing what drugs. This ruling struck down a state law that prohibited the purchase and resale of the data for use by the drug makers. The judge said that the law violated the First Amendment because it restricted commercial speech. The law may, however, have been helpful in cutting down the close ties between physicians and pharmaceutical companies in a time when 94% of physicians report close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, it could have limited the influence that pharmaceutical companies have over physicians.
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