SORRELL v. IMS HEALTH

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
10-779
Petitioner 
William H. Sorrell, Attorney General of Vermont, et al.
Respondent 
IMS Health Inc., et al.
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioners)
(Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioners)
(for the respondents)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 2007, the Vermont legislature passed a law that banned the sale, transmission or use of prescriber-identifiable data (''PI data'') for marketing or promoting a prescription drug without the consent of the prescriber. The law also prohibited the sale, license or exchange for value of PI data for marketing or promoting a prescription drug.

Three companies -- IMS Health, Verispan and Source Healthcare Analytics, a unit of Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer -- that collect and sell such data and by a trade group for pharmaceutical manufacturers challenged the law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit struck down the measure, holding that it violated the First Amendment because it restricts the speech rights of data miners without directly advancing legitimate state interests.

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Question 

Does a Vermont state statute banning the sale, transmission or use of prescriber-identifiable data, absent prescriber consent, unconstitutionally restrict the free speech rights of pharmaceutical research companies, manufacturers and others to use that data?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for IMS Health, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: first amendment

Yes. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court order in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Vermont's statute, which imposes content- and speaker-based burdens on protected expression, is subject to heightened judicial scrutiny," Kennedy wrote. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. "The First Amendment does not require courts to apply a special 'heightened' standard of review when reviewing such an effort," Breyer wrote. "And, in any event, the statute meets the First Amendment standard this Court has previously applied when the government seeks to regulate commercial speech."

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SORRELL v. IMS HEALTH. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 01 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_10_779>.
SORRELL v. IMS HEALTH, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_10_779 (last visited September 1, 2014).
"SORRELL v. IMS HEALTH," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_10_779.