New Privacy Rule Protects Patients and Helps Research

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 12, 2002) – Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Vice President for Bioethics Michael Werner issued the following statement regarding changes to the privacy regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services:

“These changes not only protect patient privacy, but also streamline the
process of research data collection, which is vital to adequately monitor trends in public health, and can lead to improved care. Patient privacy is of great concern to our industry, and the Department’s careful changes demonstrate that protecting privacy and facilitating research are mutually attainable goals.

“The Department sets boundaries around health data that may be used for continuing research studies and public health observation. Through the use of this data, which cannot include personal identifiers such as name, Social Security number, and street address, patient privacy will continue to be respected, while researchers and public health agencies will be able to appropriately review medical research data to detect important correlations and trends.

“Other changes prevent protected health information from being used for third-party marketing purposes, while allowing the disclosure of this information to manufacturers for use in further evaluating the impact of new drugs and treatments on the public health.”

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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