I meant to post this the other day and I forgot. If this is true - it is indefensible: Albertsons accused of selling drug prescription information 4:58 p.m. September 9, 2004 SAN DIEGO – A consumer advocacy group has sued Albertsons Inc., alleging the supermarket chain sells prescription information to drug companies without alerting customers. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse accuses Albertsons and its pharmacy units – SavOn Drug Stores, Osco Drug and Jewel Osco – of sharing customer names, addresses, phone numbers and prescribed medications. That information is allegedly used to solicit customers by mail or over the phone. The suit was filed without fanfare in May in San Diego Superior Court and announced by the San Diego-based consumer group on Thursday. It asks that Albertsons end the alleged practice and seeks unspecified monetary damages for unfair business practices and deceptive advertising. Albertsons denied the allegations. "We highly value and respect the privacy of our pharmacy customers and do not sell, nor have we ever sold, their private information," said Karen Ramos, a company spokeswoman. "We consider the allegations in this complaint to be false and totally without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves." The suit also names 18 drug companies, including GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Eli Lilly & Co., Merck & Co., Novartis AG, Wyeth Corp. and AstraZeneca PLC. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says drug makers used the information to urge customers to renew prescriptions or switch to other medications. One example cited in the lawsuit alleged that Albertsons worked with AstraZeneca to persuade customers to buy Nexium when the drug company's patent expired on another heartburn medication. According to the suit, drug companies either prepare or approve the sales pitches, which are carried out by Albertsons or a direct marketing company. Albertsons gets between $3 and $4.50 for each letter sent to customers and between $12 and $15 for each phone call, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse said in a statement. Drug companies pay Albertsons "millions of dollars" a year for the service, the group said. The arrangement "allows Albertsons to, essentially, get a kickback for secretly trading its control of consumers' confidential medical information," the suit states. "Albertsons never discloses the Drug Marketing Program to its customers and proceeds ... without customer knowledge, authorization or consent." Albertsons, based in Boise, Idaho, says its 2,000 pharmacies in the United States fill more than 130 million prescriptions a year.