In response to reader comments on Joseph Conn's "Data-miners unite in Maine to block 'opt-out' Rx law":
I am heartened that Narayanachar Murali and I have common ground insofar as he recognizes the value of both prescription drugs and the free market. I further agree with him that scientists, not marketers, discover drugs. However, without marketers, many prescription drugs would not achieve their full potential as, especially in these times of recalls and adverse side effects, convincing skeptical physicians to try new products is an increasingly difficult task. Exubera is a recent case in point. With few exceptions, pharmaceutical products do not sell themselves.
Alas, we must part ways when Murali compares prescription profile data to insider trading. Prescription profile data, at least for the moment, is available to all competitors, whereas inside information in the context of security trading is by definition unavailable to most market participants.
We also agree though that using prescription data to market pharmaceutical products is legal. While Murali considers it impolite for prescription data to be used to inform marketing, I would think wasting doctors' time by marketing products they have no use for given their patient base would be far worse. Proper use of prescription data enables the industry to avoid such a faux pas.
Terry NugentVice president of marketingMedical Marketing ServiceWood Dale, Ill. To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.