Huge buyer of medical drug records plans IPO
Information about your prescriptions is routinely bought and resold. IMS Health, one of the most active traders in the field, wants to go public.
In a Jan. 2 filing to the Security and Exchange Commission announcing an upcoming IPO, IMS said it processes data from more 45 billion healthcare transactions annually (more than six for each human on earth, on average) and collects information from more than 780,000 different streams of data worldwide.
"The selling of prescription data really began in earnest in the late 1980s," said Per Lofberg, executive vice president of CVS Caremark (CVS), the nation's largest pharmacy. "There was some controversy around that. It wasn't so much for the patient privacy, because none of this has any patient identifiers, but it was controversial in relation to physician privacy."
"For decades, our market research business was built using health information that did not identify a patient -- long before the passage of HIPAA or other privacy laws," IMS said in its SEC filing. "We continue to engage in strong privacy and security practices in the collection, processing, analysis, reporting and use of information."
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