The GoodRx sign outside the Nasdaq on IPO day, September 23, 2020.

Source: GoodRx

Federal Trade Commission Proposed Permanent Ban on Prescription Drug Comparison Site GoodRx from sharing user health data with third parties for advertising purposes, the agency said Wednesday.

In a “first-of-its-kind proposed order,” the FTC also said it was imposing a $1.5 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the agency’s health breach notification rules. Under the agreement, GoodRx is required to limit the length of time it retains users’ personal and health information and to ask third parties to delete consumer health data shared with them.

The FTC alleged that GoodRx shared personal health information, including prescription drugs and medical conditions, with companies such as Facebook, Google and Criteo at least since 2017, despite promises not to share user data with advertisers and third parties. The agency also alleges that GoodRx used personal health data to target its users with personalized ads on Facebook and Instagram. For example, according to the FTC, GoodRx in 2019 uploaded to Facebook a list of information about users who purchased certain medications in order to target them with ads.

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

“The settlement with the FTC focuses on an old issue that was actively addressed nearly three years ago, prior to the FTC’s investigation,” GoodRx said, adding that it made updates to keep users safe before the agency contacted it.

Shares of GoodRX rose 3.5% to $5.79 on Wednesday. Over the past year, shares have lost more than three-quarters of their value.

GoodRx said in a blog post that the medical records were not shared because of its use of the Facebook pixel, a code that websites use to advertise. Despite this, according to GoodRx, it “led the industry by removing the standard Javascript pixel on Facebook nearly three years ago.”

FTC commissioners voted 4-0 to send the proposed order to the Department of Justice to file on behalf of the FTC.

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