GoodRx stops sharing personal medical data with Google, Facebook
GoodRx – a mobile app that saves US consumers money on prescription drugs – has apologized and sworn to do better after a Consumer Reports investigation found that it was sharing people’s data with 20 other internet-based companies.
Consumer Reports had discovered that GoodRx was sharing the names of medications that people were using the app to research, including those of a highly sensitive, personal nature. For example, the consumer-focused nonprofit found it could use the app to look for discounts on Lexapro, an antidepressant; PrEP and Edurant, used to prevent and treat HIV, respectively; Cialis, for erectile dysfunction; Clomid, a medication used in fertility treatments; and Seroquel, an antipsychotic often prescribed to control schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The details GoodRx was sharing could lead to companies being able to infer “highly intimate details” about users, Consumer Reports said:
With the information coming off our test phone and browser, a company could infer highly intimate details about GoodRx users suffering from serious chronic conditions, and make educated guesses about their sexual orientation.
Consumer Reports found that some of the firms that GoodRx used for marketing automation and customer engagement were receiving the names of people’s drugs, the pharmacies where users tried to fill prescriptions, and ID numbers that advertising and analytics companies use to track the behavior of specific consumers across the web.
Several companies that Consumer Reports talked to said that they don’t share data broadly with data brokers or advertising companies. Rather, they only use the data to help GoodRx target its own users with information.
Thomas Goetz, chief of research at GoodRx:
To reach new customers who might find GoodRx useful, we place advertisements for GoodRx on third-party platforms, including Facebook and Google, and retarget users who have visited GoodRx to encourage them to come back and use the service.