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Stimulus Bill To Compare Effectiveness of Medical Treatments – But Let’s not Forget Science in the Process

Posted Feb 19 2009 5:29pm

This is one part of the bill pharmaceutical and medical-device lobbyists are protesting, as it would stand to potentially eliminate some drugs and treatment plans once queries are run to find out and identify what is the best over all treatment plan, almost like what we used to call grading on the curve.  As with any queried information, we will get results, but the problem is with us, we are all different, so something that may work for the masses may not work for us and individuals.

When risk management gets involved purely from a cost stand, away go the other opportunities that would be helpful, but are turned away due to the treatment or drug not fitting into the “masses” category on queried results.  Granted, there are duplicated efforts in some areas and some patients may be receiving treatments at present that are perhaps not the best, cost wise or treatment wise for the condition, and there could be money saved in many areas.

Again, queries are very helpful in decision making processes; however, one item that is somewhat left untouched here is the science side of healthcare.   Like it or not, it exists and new drugs, especially in cancer research with perhaps a short proven trial can be denied to patients.  Nobody likes the cost portion here, not even the patients, but on the other hand do we play “God” and deny such drugs and services to those who may benefit?  Science and the evolution of new drugs and treatments plans are not something a query can put it’s finger on immediately and when risk management enters, only established credible data seems to enter the picture. 

Until such time when science is completely accepted as part of the clinical process, the battle will continue.  If we shut the door to Science and only evaluate cost, we are missing the boat completely to finding the cure for diseases.  Again, I am not saying that the queried information and the algorithms that calculate the guidelines are not valued information, as it is, but how we balance and work with such information combined with what it happening in Science and the availability of new biotech, or bio similar drugs is the key.  We are not going to find a “100% fit all” formula that will fit everyone.  

This comes back around to looking for and finding the “smart people” to fill positions at the HHS and FDA that have the intelligence and common sense combined to create an infrastructure that has room to bend and take advantage of queried information, and yet be able to determine when decisions outside the “risk management areas” are needed and bring Science into the picture when appropriate, so as not to deny treatments and drugs to those in need.  Anyone today who believes Science is still just an entity of its own out there, might want to think again.   BD 

WASHINGTON — The $787 billion economic stimulus bill approved by Congress will, for the first time, provide substantial amounts of money for the federal government to compare the effectiveness of different treatments for the same illness.

Under the legislation, researchers will receive $1.1 billion to compare drugs, medical devices, surgery and other ways of treating specific conditions. The bill creates a council of up to 15 federal employees to coordinate the research and to advise President Obama and Congress on how to spend the money.

The program responds to a growing concern that doctors have little or no solid evidence of the value of many treatments. Supporters of the research hope it will eventually save money by discouraging the use of costly, ineffective treatments.

How do drugs and “watchful waiting” compare with surgery as a treatment for leg pain that results from blockage of the arteries in the lower legs? Is it better to treat chronic heart failure by medications alone or by drugs and home monitoring of a patient’s blood pressure and weight?

U.S., as Part of Stimulus Bill, Will Compare Effectiveness of Medical Treatments - NYTimes.com

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