Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


In yesterday’s post I took Albertsons/OSCO to task for starting another program to collect you private medical data, and manipulate it for their benefit. In the company’s mailing to my wife, she wasn’t even given the option to say whether she wanted to join. She was in, and if she wanted out she had to call Albertsons. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is concerned, as you can see by the “Alert” posted on their site. I urge you to read this article from PRC, because it confirms everything I reported on Albertsons/OSCO in Monday’s post. Like proceeding with programs (NextStep Prescription Support) that involve prescription information compiled in an easily retrieved database, without the customer’s permission. By the way, your doctor has no idea they are doing this. And now Dominick’s, a food and drug chain in the Midwest owned by Safeway, is mailing out letters similar to those I reported Albertsons was sending in 2005 and early 2007; see here and here. It all sounds so mysterious. Out of the blue you receive this notification from your local pharmacist that your prescription for “X” may be overdue, but you should ignore this communiqué if your doctor has changed your prescription or has given you other instructions. In other words, the sender doesn’t have the slightest idea what your specific situation is, but if at all possible, they want their Rx for “X” renewed. Older folk might be confused by this approach into thinking they may not be taking their medicine properly and make critical mistakes. After all, it comes from their trusted pharmacist, who, for many of us, represents a very important second line of health information and communications. It is just one more example of how our names and personal data are used to sell us something, or be sold for huge profits by the junk mail and non-junk mail industries. In my concept of control over consumers’ names and private information, the pharmaceutical business would be at the top of the non-junk mail list, along with all the other similar companies who have recently decided that collecting and selling your sensitive data is a new-found treasure of revenue. It is only a matter of time until pharmaceutical corporations start to perform data mining/predictive modeling in a serious fashion to determine who they can coerce into switching medications. That is, if they aren’t already doing it secretly. With all the consumer information out there on ailments suffered and prescriptions taken, then combining this with demographic data like age, income, occupation, etc., compounded further with lifestyle habits like drinking, smoking, gambling and the like…the individual doesn’t have a fighting chance. Especially should these databases be used in the hiring of employees, determining insurance eligibility, and for securing home mortgages or other types of credit. Think they won’t do it? Innocent Americans didn’t think their own President would spy on their phone calls either.

Tomorrow: AARP tries the same negative-option approach as Albertsons and Dominick”s.

No comments: