According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
...a bill has been introduced into the California legislature, which has previously enacted some of the tightest medical privacy provisions in the nation, that would allow pharmacies to sell patients' prescription information to third parties working for drug companies. The proclaimed reason for this is that people forget top take and refill their essential medicines and this way, the benign drug industry can send benign reminder notices to folks and benignly improve their health.
In the past, opening this door has led to direct-to-consumer marketing mailings, in a manner that makes it hard for the average patient to detect that the sales pitch to take more or newer drugs comes from a pharmaceutical company and not from their physician or pharmacy.
It may, in fact, be a good idea to send patients reminder notices to get them to keep taking truly essential medicines. (The matter of course is open to study.) But simple common sense would seem to dictate that this should not be a profit-driven enterprise engaged in by those whose overt agenda is to sell more drugs.