Eckerd Pays $1 Million, Resolves Privacy Case

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Eckerd Corp. will pay $1 million to fund an ethics program at a Florida university and revise its marketing practices to resolve an investigation into its use of personal medical information, the Florida Attorney General's Office said yesterday.


Launched in December, the investigation sought to determine whether Eckerd gave consumers enough disclosures when it had them sign a form - nominally to acknowledge the receipt of a prescription - that gave the company permission to use their information for marketing purposes.


The investigation was spurred by a lawsuit filed by a Pompano Beach, FL, man who claimed he had received solicitations containing information about a new HIV drug.


While it did not admit wrongdoing, the pharmacy chain will refrain from using prescription pick-up forms to obtain consent from consumers and restrict direct marketing of prescription drugs to those who have provided consent to release their medical information. Eckerd also promised to increase disclosures in its marketing communications and provide consumers with an easy way to opt out.


The $1 million will create an ethics chair at Florida A&M University School of Pharmacy. The Florida Attorney General's office credited Eckerd with cooperating in the investigation.


On July 9, the Florida Attorney General's office issued subpoenas to Eli Lilly & Co., Walgreens, Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and three doctors and a physician's assistant who are members of the hospital's medical group. The subpoenas are part of an investigation into whether Eli Lilly violated privacy and acted together with Walgreens and the medical group members to send unsolicited samples of Prozac Weekly to consumers.


That investigation was spurred by a lawsuit filed by a South Florida woman, who said she received a sample of Prozac Weekly in Walgreens envelope accompanied by a letter from the doctors, despite having stopped her use of Prozac years before due to a bad reaction.


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