Walgreen Co. accused of selling patient data

By Reuters
Posted March 11 at 4:56 p.m.

A lawsuit filed in California this week accuses national drug-store chain Walgreen Co. of unlawfully selling medical information gleaned from patient prescriptions, another front in the battle over personal information.

Unlike suits that focus on patient privacy, the plaintiffs accuse Walgreen Co. of depriving them of the commercial value of their own prescription information.

According to the suit, brought by Todd Murphy on behalf of his two daughters and the rest of the class, Walgreen sells the prescription information to data mining companies who resell it to pharmaceutical companies for marketing purposes. The practice allows drugmakers to target physicians considered high-volume prescribers and those most willing to prescribe new medications, it said.

Walgreen spokesman Robert Elfinger said the company had just learned of the lawsuit and declined to comment.

As a measure of the information’s value, the suit cites Walgreen’s 2010 annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which lists “purchased prescription files” as intangible assets worth $749 million.

Read more about the topics in this post:

Companies in this article

Walgreen Co.

Read more about this company »


  1. Amy March 11 at 5:30 pm

    I bet this happens more than we want to know.

  2. CLH March 22 at 8:05 a.m.

    I would be surprised. Very strict HIPPA laws are in place. I would be surprised if this is an issue of some data mining company who figured out a loophole with a third party.