Legislators, policy experts push for comparative effectiveness research

Some legislators and policy experts are pushing for a major change to how we examine the effectiveness of drugs. Currently all drugs are tested against placebos, assuring that they are "better than nothing," as David O. Barbe, MD and chair of the AMA Council on Medical Service points out. However, many are pushing for a federal agency to do comparative effectiveness testing.

At the moment, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of health research spending is used to test the effectiveness of products against one another. With sometimes large cost differentials between different products, and also possibly very different outcomes, how can we ignore these studies?

But some are also concerned about how cost would play into the studies. They question whether the cost should somehow be factored into the comparative effectiveness analysis: For instance, if drug A costs twice as much as drug B, should it be tested to see whether it is twice as effective as drug B?

Whether cost plays into the testing or not, though, most agree that establishing an agency and encouraging comparative effectiveness research will help with two of the key issues of the day: increasing quality and lowering costs.

To learn more about the efforts:
-read this AMNews piece