Data firms, drug manufacturers like odds

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Data firms and drug manufacturers are feeling confident after the Supreme Court arguments on Vermont's physician data ban.

“Based on the tenor of the questioning that I saw and the body language of certain justices, there appear to be five solid conservative votes,” said Christopher Mohr, an attorney with Meyer, Klipper & Mohr, which served as counsel on an amicus brief in support of the data firms. Coalition for Healthcare Communication head John Kamp concurred, saying: “The tenor of the Justices so clearly signaled defeat for Vermont that we may see a decision before June.”

Three of the four most reliably conservative justices — Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito — skewered Vermont's arguments on free speech grounds from the start.

“You want to lower your healthcare costs, not by direct regulation, but by restricting the flow of information to doctors … by censoring what they can hear to make sure they don't have full information, so that they will do what you want them to do when it comes to prescribing drugs,” said Chief Justice Roberts.

The court's liberal wing was scarcely more sympathetic to Vermont.

Two dozen states have similar legislation pending.

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