June 23, 2011 – The U.S. Supreme Court on a 6-3 vote has struck down as unconstitutional a 2007 Vermont law that prohibited the collection and sale of physicians' prescription data without consent.

Vendors such as IMS Health gather information from pharmacies about the mediations physicians prescribe and sell that data to drug firms so they can refine their marketing strategies, the Wall Street Journal reports. But Vermont legislators argued that a ban on such practices would protect physician privacy and result in more generic medications being prescribed.

In the lawsuit Sorrell v. IMS Health, Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the law violates the speech rights of the data mining and drug companies, according to the Associated Press. Dissenting Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Badar Ginsburg and Elena Kagan argued the law was a constitutional regulation of business.

The Supreme Court opinion in Sorrell v. IMS Health is available here.

This story originally appeared on Health Data Management.