Surescripts-Amazon PillPack battle over patient data heats up: 6 things to know

Surescripts is threatening to end its contract with a vendor it claims fraudulently requested patient medication history to give to Amazon's online pharmacy PillPack and will turn the matter over to the FBI, according to CNBC. It is the latest move in a battle over patient data between Amazon and the largest e-prescribing company in the U.S. 

Six things to know:

1. The dispute centers on how PillPack accessed patient prescription data. Until recently, PillPack received its data from a third-party entity, ReMyHealth, which compiles raw data from Surescripts, cleans it up and offers it to clients. PillPack's service relied on this data to maintain an accurate list of patient medications to keep up with refills and uncover duplicate subscriptions. ReMyHealth recently said it would stop working with PillPack.

2. Earlier in July, PillPack was warned that Surescripts might cut off its access to the data through ReMyHealth. Amazon threatened to sue Surescripts to prevent the e-prescribing company from ending its access to the data. One person familiar with the legal dispute told CNBC that PillPack has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Surescripts.

3. Now the battle is heating up again. Surescripts is accusing the vendor, ReMyHealth, of breaking the terms of their contract by giving "fraudulent information" to Surescipts to get the prescription data. In particular, Surescripts said that ReMyHealth asked for data to send to "providers caring for patients in hospitals," when instead it was sending that information to PillPack.

4. Surescripts said it has alerted the FBI and stopped ReMyHealth from accessing its network of data.

5. "We are still investigating the full scope of these improper activities, but today are taking immediate steps to protect the data our partners entrusted to us and the privacy of our patients they serve," Surescripts told CNBC. "Specifically, we have suspended ReMy Health from our network and our terminating their contract and are turning the matter over to the FBI for further investigation."

6. An unnamed PillPack spokesperson told CNBC, "Given that Surescripts is, to our knowledge, the sole clearinghouse for medication history in the U.S., the core question is whether Surescripts will allow customers to share their medication history with pharmacies. And if not, why not?" A ReMy Health spokesperson told Becker's, "Surescript's claims are unfounded, false and appear to be part of their overall market strategy. ReMyHealth operates in full alignment with our contracts and privacy law. We support patients facing some of the most complex and costly health challenges – expediting patient access to medicines by equipping patients and their care providers with essential medical and plan coverage information. ReMy Health believes competition in the healthcare marketplace is best for patients and will continue to fight for what we know is right."

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