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Physicians get second delay in FTC enforcement of identity theft rules

Clamor from the medical community has prompted the Federal Trade Commission again to delay, this time from May 1 to Aug. 1, enforcement of new regulations to combat identity theft. The latest last-minute reprieve gives organized medicine more time to air concerns that what it considers an overreaching interpretation by the FTC of the "red flags" rules will prove burdensome for doctors. The regulations, authorized under the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, require entities that regularly extend credit, or defer payment for services, to establish a written policy for preventing and responding to signs of identity theft. The American Medical Association and others continue to challenge the commission's view that Congress intended to consider physicians creditors under the act because they defer payments for services through insurance companies or other means. In an April 30 statement, the FTC acknowledged "the ongoing debate about whether Congress wrote this provision ...

IOM warns about physician-pharma conflicts of interest

In recent months, medical schools, the drug industry and Congress have sought to crack down on perceived conflicts of interest between physicians and drug companies. Now the Institute of Medicine has joined the calls for change. The IOM issued a report April 28 warning that such conflicts could undermine the integrity of medicine, and the agency wants everyone involved in physician-drug industry relationships to rethink how they do business. The new approaches should be crafted with full disclosure at their core, the report said. Conflicts of interest "erode public trust while providing no meaningful benefits to patients or society," said IOM panel Chair Bernard Lo, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California, San Francisco. The report offers 16 recommendations to avoid conflicts in physicians' offices, biomedical research, medical education, journals, clinical guidelines and institutions. They include adopting confli ...

Court upholds Vermont law on prescribing data privacy

A federal court in April upheld a 2007 Vermont law that lets physicians choose whether to allow their prescribing data to be sold for use in pharmaceutical marketing. The decision came on the heels of a November 2008 court ruling that upheld New Hampshire's ban on selling prescribers' information for commercial uses. This reversed a district court ruling that the ban violated First Amendment protections for commercial speech. Pharmaceutical sales representatives, also called detailers, use prescribing data to tailor their discussions with physicians and other prescribers. In his opinion upholding the Vermont law, U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha wrote that the state had demonstrated that detailing "encourages doctors to prescribe newer, more expensive and potentially more dangerous drugs instead of adhering to evidence-based treatment guidelines." The plaintiffs in the case -- medical data firms IMS Health, SDI and Wolters Kluwer Health -- said in a statement that they are ...