Yesterday, the Vermont District Court upheld a 2007 law banning the use of prescriber-identifiable information to market prescription drugs. In his opinion, Judge J. Garvan Murtha affirmed the Vermont Legislature’s findings that the use of data-mining as a pharmaceutical sales tactic promotes the overuse of more expensive, less-tested drugs, and that banning the practice for marketing purposes protects public health and contains costs.  Importantly, the decision explicitly deferred to the legislature to decide how to rein in rising health care costs.

The Court’s decision supports a unanimous November 2008 ruling by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a similar law in New Hampshire that bans the use of prescriber-identifiable information for marketing purposes, and is a strong signal for other states that are currently considering data-mining restriction laws, including Connecticut and Massachusetts.

A Healthy Blog, part of the coalition supporting the Massachusetts data-mining bill, found inspiration in Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell’s response to the decision: “It is a testament to our Legislature and to the courage of this small state that we continue to lead the way on important public health issues,” he said.

Here’s the full decision.