Drug and medical device makers, along with some members of Congress, are concerned that comparative effectiveness studies — which are receiving $1.1 billion in economic stimulus money — could be used to limit patients’ options, according to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).
As part of the stimulus package, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and U.S. Health and Human Services Department are each set to get $400 million, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), $300 million, for doing research that compares the effectiveness of different treatment options as a means to reduce wasteful or ineffective treatments, according to a Health Policy Daily report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The NIH has said that it would consider using its stimulus money to back research comparing the cost-effectiveness of biologic medications, cancer treatments and preventive measures for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, the Journal said. President Barack Obama has said that reigning in runaway health care costs is key to reducing the nation’s budget deficit.
Carolyn Clancy, director of the AHRQ told the Wall Street Journal, “the overarching purpose of the program is to give clinicians and patients information they need to make decisions.” That would include information on safety, effectiveness and cost.
However, Lori Reilly, vice president for policy and research at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told the Journal, “We don’t want [the research] to be used to deny access to care.”
Teresa Lee, vice president of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, agreed. Using “this research to deny access to appropriate treatments for individual patients with individual medical histories and individual needs should not be the objective.”
In an opinion piece published by the Journal (subscription required), Dr. Jerome Groopman and Dr. Pamela Hartzband, who are staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and faculty at Harvard Medical School, said so-called “quality” care can be bad. “In too many cases, the quality measures have been hastily adopted, only to be proven wrong and even potentially dangerous to patients,” Groopman and Hartzband wrote.
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Photo illustration from edflix.org.