Two new consultations on the protection of health data

Two new consultations on the protection of health data

Essential issues for patent and know-how licensing - The Pharma Letter

With the recent launch of two consultations in relation to health data, it is clear that data protection in the life sciences sector is a hot topic, and one that businesses in the industry should pay close attention to. 

The consultations by both the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) suggest a recognition by both organisations that data protection practices can be improved or require more guidance and attention. 

The outcomes of these consultations may influence data protection policies and procedures that your business has in place, or at least alter what is considered to be best practice within the sector. 

ICO consultation on PETs

The ICO recently conducted a consultation specifically relating to the use of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) in the healthcare sector, to ascertain what organisations need to adopt and use the technologies. 

PETs refer to methods of protecting personal data, such as encryption. These are especially important where sensitive data, such as health data, is being processed. Despite this, adoption of PETs within the health sector is low and the ICO is keen to find out why. 

Not only do PETs increase protection for personal data, but the reduced risk to data as a result of implementation may increase opportunity for life sciences projects that may have been considered too risky before. 

The ICO consultation period concluded 14 February 2022. Further details can be found here.

ABPI consultation on industry principles for use of health data

The importance of such projects mentioned above is echoed in the ABPI’s consultation, which highlights the value of using health and genomic data to improve healthcare research and services.  

The consultation is designed to gather opinions on the ABPI’s draft governance principles for analysing and using UK health data, which aim to build trust and transparency. You can find more detail on the principles here. They are as follows: 

  1. Transparency of Purpose
  2. Clarity of Arrangements
  3. Patient and Public Involvement And Engagement (PPIE)
  4. Non-Exclusivity Of Arrangements
  5. Compliance With Prevailing Laws And Regulations

The ABPI consultation is open for contributions until 11 March 2022. Further details can be found here.

Next steps

Given the recent developments, you may wish to review your data protection practices to ensure you are dealing with health data in an appropriate way, reducing the risk of data breaches where possible. 

Lawyers in our multi-disciplinary life sciences team regularly advise on issues such as these. If you would like to speak to a member of our data protection team, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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