Supporters, Opponents of Comparative Effectiveness Research ‘Gearing Up’ To Clash Over Planned Efforts, New York Times Reports
The Obama administration is poised to enter the "same medical minefield" that 15 years ago resulted in unsuccessful federal efforts to develop guidelines for physicians in identifying cost-efficient and effective treatments for common medical conditions, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, opponents of comparative effectiveness research are "gearing up for a fight" over the administration's plan to spend $1.1 billion on publicly released studies on treatments that provide the best outcomes for patients.
Under the administration's plan, the $1.1 billion will be distributed to HHS, NIH and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to finance the studies, develop patient databases and other data-collecting tools. A panel of government health experts currently is holding a series of public hearings, during which people can suggest medical conditions for which comparative effectiveness research should be conducted. In late June, the panel, along with the Institute of Medicine, will release reports recommending priorities for comparative effectiveness research.
Medical researchers, consumer groups, unions, insurance companies and others that support such research say that it is one way to eliminate ineffective treatments and reduce federal health spending, which was $2.2 trillion in 2007, or 16% of the national gross domestic product.
However, opponents of comparative effectiveness research -- which include some pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, medical trade groups, physicians and their allies -- have expressed concern that the research could lead to rationed health care, inadequate treatment for some patients like those in minority groups and restrict efforts at personalized medicine, the Times reports. In addition, some conservative and libertarian research groups and media commentators say that comparative effectiveness research could lead to "socialized medicine."
The Times reports that groups on both sides of the issue currently are "warily circling one another, as the first administrative steps of the process unfold" (Meier, New York Times, 5/7).