Published 12/1/2008

AMA program provides prescribing data privacy

Do you know about the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Physician Data Restriction Program (PDRP)? The program, which is available to all physicians, whether you belong to the AMA or not, offers you the option of withholding your prescribing data from pharmaceutical sales representatives while still making it available for medical research purposes. The program also enables you to register complaints against sales representatives or pharmaceutical companies whom you believe are using your prescribing data inappropriately.

Following are some frequently asked questions about the program and the responses from the AMA.

Does the AMA collect and provide these data to pharmaceutical companies?
No, the AMA does not collect, license, sell, or have access to physician prescribing data. Healthcare information companies (HIOs) collect and compile physician prescribing data and sell it to pharmaceutical companies. The AMA does, however, license physician demographic data to HIOs.

Why did the AMA launch the PDRP?
A few years ago, the AMA became aware that some physicians had concerns regarding the inappropriate use of their prescribing data by pharmaceutical sales representatives. A Gallup survey of physician attitudes regarding the use of physician prescribing data by pharmaceutical companies found that most (84 percent) physicians said either they were not concerned about the release of prescribing data or that the ability to “opt-out” of the release of their data to pharmaceutical sales representatives would alleviate their concerns. The PDRP was launched in 2006 to provide physicians the option to restrict their prescribing data from pharmaceutical sales reps.

How are physicians responding to the PDRP program?
Of the physicians who expressed an opinion on PDRP in a recent market research study, 96 percent were either satisfied or very satisfied with the program. This high level of satisfaction resulted in more than half (56 percent) of respondents telling a colleague about the program.

Are pharmaceutical companies obligated to adhere to the PDRP?
Through licensing agreements with HIOs, the AMA can exert influence over how they and their pharmaceutical clients use prescribing data. These licensing contracts require the pharmaceutical companies to honor PDRP physician opt outs. Companies found to be in violation could lose access to AMA data altogether.

How can physicians register for the PDRP program?
To enroll in PDRP online, go to
www.ama-assn.org/go/prescribingdata or call the AMA at (800) 621-8335.