Pharmacists and Industry: Guidelines for Ethical Interactions

American College of Clinical Pharmacy


Pharmacotherapy. 2008;28(3):410-420. 

In This Article

Guideline 10

Pharmacists should ensure that patient confidentiality is maintained for all industry interactions. The confidentiality of prescriber information should also be respected.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), enacted in 1996, protects patients' rights related to privacy and confidentiality through legislation.[63] Protecting patients' privacy and confidentiality is not only a legal concern, it is an ethical obligation for all health care professionals involved in patient care. Pharmacists must ensure that patient privacy and confidentiality are maintained during any interaction with an industry representative, including representatives from the marketing, sales, or clinical research arms of the company. For example, meetings with industry representatives should not be held in patient care areas, and patient information should be protected from viewing. In addition, no patient information should be shared outside of a bona fide relationship with industry representatives (e.g., the medical division of a company involved in a research project or a technology company involved in the implementation of a technology that requires the industry representative to view actual patient data). An industry representative who observes ill patients just by being in a patient care area may be violating that patient's privacy because that industry representative is now aware of that patient's illness, which he or she had no legitimate professional "need to know."

Pharmacists should not provide information about individual prescribers who order or prescribe particular products to any company that will use it for commercial purposes (e.g., sales or marketing), including vendors that specialize in collecting this type of data.[64]


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