Bad data mining

Recently I received a flier in the mail from Bausch & Lomb, offering me a free sample of an over-the-counter allergy drug called Alaway (ketotifen fumarate ophthalmic solution). “Don’t suffer through another allergy season. Stop itchy eyes,” the mailer said.

How did Bausch & Lomb know I have hay fever? It could only be from my history of purchasing OTC decongestants like Claritin-D and Alavert-D (both are loratadine/pseudoephedrine combos). And the reason why drug companies know I was taking this medication is because federal law now requires a photo ID and a signature to purchase any products containing pseudoephedrine. (Thanks, meth heads, for inconveniencing millions of innocent people.)

Clearly, pharmacies are selling their pseudoephedrine purchase logs to pharma marketers. Some might call this legitimate use of my personal information for disease management purposes under the treatment/payment/operations exception to HIPAA. It feels more like a violation of my privacy.

Anyone else have similar thoughts?