Why GoodRx emails customers about sharing their health information

New York (CNN) GoodRx customers who typically receive emails about prescription drug deals and company refill reminders saw something very different in their inboxes this week.

GoodRX sent a message to users detailing allegations from the Federal Trade Commission that the company shared sensitive health data with third parties for advertising purposes without customer consent.

“This information included details about drugs and health conditions people searched for and their prescription medications,” the company wrote in the notice emailed to customers and posted on its website. “We shared this information with third parties, including Facebook. In some cases, GoodRx used the information to target people with health-related ads.”

The warning comes a month after the FTC announced a formal settlement with the digital health platform and issued a “first-of-its-kind proposed order” prohibiting the company from sharing its customers’ health data with other companies for advertising.

GoodRx has denied previous wrongdoing. “We disagree with the FTC’s allegations and we do not admit wrongdoing,” the company wrote in February. “By entering into the settlement, we can avoid the time and expense of lengthy litigation.”

GoodRX, accessible online and through a mobile app, offers telehealth visits and prescription drug coupons to users, but the FTC claims its privacy practices have been “not so good.”

The company said the timing of this week’s communications was specified in the FTC settlement.

Still, the message seemed to catch some customers off guard. Users took to social media to express concern over the email, with some questioning how much money the company might have made from their health data and others swearing off using the service.

In addition to paying a $1.5 million civil fine, the company has agreed to an injunction mandating other steps, including requiring third parties to delete consumer health data and creating a “comprehensive privacy program.”

The FTC also proposed Thursday a ban on BetterHelp sharing consumer data, including mental health information, for advertising purposes. BetterHelp will have to pay consumers $7.8 million to settle charges that it “disclosed sensitive consumer data to third parties,” including Facebook and Snapchat, according to the FTC.

“We understand the FTC’s desire to set new consumer marketing precedents, and we are pleased to settle this matter with the agency,” BetterHelp said in a statement on its website. “This settlement, which is not an admission of wrongdoing, allows us to remain focused on our mission to help millions of people around the world access quality therapy.”






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