The Proposed CVS–Aetna Merger Could Threaten Patient Privacy

Aetna is notable for not selling anonymized patient data—but CVS, like many pharmacy chains, does.

The proposed merger between pharmacy chain CVS and insurer Aetna would give the new combined company greater leverage to engage in a commercial trade in patient data that is largely hidden from the public but completely legal.

Prior to the proposed merger, Aetna was notable among leading insurers for not selling anonymized patient data. By contrast, CVS, like many pharmacy chains, has long sold and traded prescription records without patient names to medical data mining companies such as IMS Health, which in November renamed itself IQVIA.

“Business being business, I’d be shocked if Aetna’s conservative policies weren’t relaxed following completion of the merger,” said Tom Russell, the former chairman of IMS, long the dominant medical data mining company.

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  • By Adam Tanner on December 14, 2017
  • Scientific American