You may have read recently about the Supreme Court considering a case that questions the government's ability to limit data mining for commercial purposes. At issue is whether states can legally prohibit data collection firms and pharmaceutical companies from selling, buying or profiting from doctors' prescription records.
The pharmaceutical industry, with an army of thousands of salespeople, spends at least $8 billion each year marketing drugs in person to doctors. It is a system that has proven highly resistant to change, despite criticism from experts such as Philip Pizzo, dean of Stanford University School of Medicine.
"Given today's information technology, there is no reason why information about new drugs, side effects or drugs in general needs to come from marketing reps," Pizzo said during a 2006 discussion of medical ethics at the Cleveland Clinic.
Photo by Mark Fischer