Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

World Privacy Forum responds to June 2007 NCVHS recommendations to the Secretary of HHS regarding health care information at non-HIPAA covered entities

Medical privacy | NCVHS | HIPAA — The World Privacy Forum has sent a letter to Dr. Simon P. Cohn, Chairman of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, supporting the Committee’s formal conclusion that all entities that create, compile, store, transmit, or use personally identifiable health information should be covered by a federal privacy law. More needs to be done about health care data that is left unprotected by HIPAA. The Forum’s letter included a discussion of two HHS programs that operate outside of HIPAA: FDA RiskMAPS, and the National Institutes of Health, which is not a covered entity under HIPAA.

World Privacy Forum testifies at FDA advisory committee hearing on the iPledge program; requests attention to privacy issues

iPledge Program | FDA — The World Privacy Forum testified before the Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration regarding privacy issues related to iPledge, a mandatory program for patients taking the drug Accutane or isotretinoin generics. The FDA has stated that the program, which it requires four drug manufacturers to have in place, does not fall under HIPAA. The program collects substantive amounts of patient information. The Forum urged the FDA to set privacy standards for all RiskMAPs in general, and to resolve privacy issues in the iPledge program specifically. The Forum requested that all marketing provisions of the iPledge program privacy policy be removed, that patients be expressly informed the program does not fall under HIPAA, and that patients be given a printed copy of the iPledge program privacy policy, among other requests.

Public Comments: August 2007 – iPledge Program / FDA ….. World Privacy Forum testifies at FDA advisory committee hearing on the iPledge program; requests attention to privacy issues

Our principal concern with iPledge is that the FDA has failed to set privacy standards for the iPledge program [2] or for similar programs that mandate patient tracking. As a result, the iPledge registry has privacy shortcomings that may potentially impact the individuals who take Accutane or Isotretinoin generics.

Public Comments: June 2007 – FDA/AHRQ Public Workshop, Implementation of Risk Minimization Action Plans to Support Quality Use of Pharmaceuticals: Opportunities and Challenges

The FDA has not paid attention to privacy standards that should be applied to RiskMAP programs. Unfortunately, this lack of FDA attention has resulted in inappropriate and unethical marketing to patients using patient information gathered for treatment purposes. If these marketing activities were being conducted by HIPAA-covered entities, the activities would be illegal. These activities may well be illegal in California, which has a strong state-level medical privacy law that goes beyond HIPAA.

The FDA needs to set privacy standards to protect patients in drug risk programs

FDA privacy standards – RiskMAPs – World Privacy Forum executive director Pam Dixon testified at an FDA/AHRQ joint public workshop about the need for the FDA to set robust privacy standards for drug risk minimization programs, which are put in place for drugs the FDA has determined to be high risk in some way. Drug risk minimization programs (like the iPledge program for the acne drug Accutane) are not typically covered by HIPAA, and some programs have a privacy policy that allows marketing use of patient information collected as part of the risk program. This kind of marketing activity would not be allowable if the programs fell under HIPAA, and Dixon’s testimony stated that patients in these programs should have the same kinds of privacy protections as HIPAA covered programs, and that marketing activities involving patient information should not be allowable in these programs.