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New bill is a bitter pill to swallow

Letters

June 15, 2008

Regarding the bill by state Sen. Ron Calderon ("Opening your pill box for bulk mailers," Consumer Confidential, June 11) to allow a bulk mailing firm to remind pharmacy customers to refill their prescriptions:

What was Calderon thinking? At the pharmacy, we stand five feet away from the customer at the counter so their personal prescription data is not revealed to strangers.

And Calderon (D-Montebello) is considering a bill allowing an outside company to know what all of us take and when, and then "remind" us that our pill bottle is empty?

Some time ago, I received a letter stating that my prescription needed to be refilled. Interestingly, although I have several prescriptions, I only received the letter for the brand name drug that was very expensive. You tell me that there is not an ulterior motive to this business plan.

Lola Moline

Los Angeles

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David Lazarus has sounded the alert to the backhanded, slimy, arrogant, blatant and unethical methods of politicians and corporations in selling private medical data.

If the Assembly passes SB 1096, it means the information from each patient will reside in the database of an outsourced company.

Privacy laws through the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act evidently do not exist for Calderon and the other state senators who voted for this bill because SB 1096 seeks to override those statutes.

Consumers will not be fooled, Mr. Calderon, by your empty claims for wanting to "help" consumers with their prescriptions. The reported $89,000 you received from drug companies and pharmacy chains shows where your loyalty resides.

Jean Miller

Irvine

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Sen. Calderon's bill aims to save my life through junk mail by selling my personal information to the drug companies.

Well, God bless him. And I'm sure the $89,000 in contributions from drug companies and pharmacy chains had nothing to do with it.

To quote Judge Marilyn Milian on "The People's Court" television show: "I wouldn't believe you if your tongue came notarized."

Kathy Straedey

Mar Vista

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There are very strict state and federal laws (HIPAA) regarding the use and protection of health information, which includes mental health evaluations, diagnoses and treatment information.

Prescription medication information would easily come under the category of medical treatment.

Also, there is a very high correlation between most prescribed medications and the diagnosed condition for which they are meant to treat, including male erectile dysfunction, HIV, depression, anxiety and so on.

So the bigger question is: Why wouldn't a pharmacy be liable for violating existing laws protecting the privacy of a patient's health information?

David K. Slay

Seal Beach

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The column on SB 1096 penetrated the mysteries of a difficult piece of legislation, decoding it in a way that a privacy-conscious consumer like me can understand.

Moreover, his column motivated me to write to my Assembly member and express my concerns directly.

Patrick Frank

Monterey

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