Pharmacists, drug representatives and your privacy

Consumers need to be assured that their privacy is protected in pharmacy software.
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  • Updated:3 Jul 2007

01.Pharmacists, drug representatives and your privacy

Doctor sitting in front of computer

The issue

Pharmaceutical company representatives are attempting to extract patient information from pharmacy dispensing software using memory sticks.

This means consumers’ personal information can be downloaded from pharmacy software and used by pharmaceutical companies to keep a track of which drugs are dispensed more often.

Pharmaceutical companies normally have data from several sources which they collate and use to target doctors when marketing their drugs.

What we want

We want a formal policy on pharmaceutical company representatives’ interaction with pharmacists. Consumers need to be assured that their privacy is protected.

While 30 pharmacists made complaints about pharmaceutical company representatives attempting to access their software there may have been other pharmacists who did not object and provided the pharmaceutical representatives with access to their data.

Pharmaceutical representatives are paid to develop positive relationships with doctors and pharmacists. It may be difficult for some pharmacists to turn down requests for information when they are showered with gifts or promotions and have developed a rapport with those representatives.

What we’re doing

We have written to Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Pharmacy Guild and the pharmacy boards in each state. These bodies should develop a joint policy to address this issue so that all pharmacists are aware of their responsibility to protect confidential patient information.



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