Under a Proposed FTC Settlement, GoodRx Would be Prohibited from Using Health Data for Advertisements

Under a Proposed FTC Settlement, GoodRx Would be Prohibited from Using Health Data for Advertisements

GoodRx is a website and mobile app that provides consumers with discounted prices on prescription medications. It offers price comparisons for various pharmacies and allows users to find coupons and savings on their prescription drugs.

The Federal Trade Commission proposed to permanently bar prescription drug comparison site GoodRx from sharing users’ health data with third parties for advertising purposes, the agency said Wednesday (February 1, 2023).

In a “first-of-its-kind proposed order,” the FTC also said it’s imposing a $1.5 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the agency’s Health Breach Notification Rule. In accordance with the settlement, GoodRx must urge third parties to erase any shared consumer health data and set a restriction on how long it retains user personal and health information.

The FTC claimed that GoodRx violated its commitments not to disclose user data with marketers or other third parties by sharing personal health information, such as prescription medicine and health problems, with organizations including Facebook, Google, and Criteo as early as 2017.

Additionally, the agency asserts that GoodRx targeted its consumers with tailored ads on Facebook and Instagram by using personal health information. For example, according to the FTC, GoodRx in 2019 uploaded to Facebook a list of information from users, who purchased certain medications, in order to target them with ads.

Criteo said in a statement that it prohibits most types of targeted ad campaigns referenced in the complaint against GoodRx and confirmed that it never received from the company “any personally identifiable information, such as name or email address, or prescription and medical information,” connected to Criteo’s digital ad services.

Both Meta and Google have previously stated that they have regulations preventing advertisers sharing private data with their services or using such data to target customers.

GoodRx said in a press release that it disagrees with the FTC’s allegations and doesn’t admit wrongdoing. It said that the settlement allows the company to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation and that the agreement “will have no material impact on our business.”

“The settlement with the FTC focuses on an old issue that was proactively addressed almost three years ago, before the FTC inquiry began,” GoodRx said, adding that it made updates to safeguard user safety before it was contacted by the agency.

GoodRX shares were up 3.5% on Wednesday to $5.79. The stock has lost more than three-quarters of its value in the past year.

GoodRx is not a pharmacy and does not sell medications directly, but instead helps consumers find the best prices for their prescriptions at local pharmacies.

GoodRx said in a blog post that medical records were not shared through its use of the Facebook pixel, the code websites use for advertising. Even so, GoodRx said, it “led the industry by removing the standard Facebook Javascript pixel almost three years ago.”

FTC Commissioners voted 4-0 to refer the proposed order to the Department of Justice to file it on the FTC’s behalf.