The American Medical Student Association is encouraging medical students to opt out of the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile, a database that contains health care providers’ personal and prescribing information, Modern Physician reports.
The group is sponsoring a “National Opt Out Day” on Wednesday to educate medical students about the database.
According to the student group, AMA sells information from the Masterfile to drug and medical device companies, which use the data to track prescribing patterns and develop targeted marketing campaigns.
AMSA says that the information in the database should be used only for medical research and should not be sold for commercial purposes.
Michael Mendoza — a former AMSA member and current medical director at Highland Family Medicine in New York — said, “As a physician, I have no knowledge or control over data about me that [are] sold in the AMA Masterfile.” He added, “I am not an AMA member, and I feel that the AMA has abused my rights to privacy by selling data about me without my consent for commercial and marketing purposes.”
In an email to Modern Healthcare, AMA President Jeremy Lazarus said that the organization already allows doctors to block drug company sales representatives from having access to their prescribing data.
He said, “Since 2006, the AMA’s Physician Data Restriction Program has allowed physician members and non-members to designate their prescribing data as off-limits to drug salespeople, while preserving the data for public good purposes, such as medical research, quality improvement and drug recall notices” (Robeznieks, Modern Physician, 4/9).