MARCH 13, 2012

Welcome to the Comparative Effectiveness Update eNewsletter
This issue is sponsored by the ExL Pharma's CER Evidence Summit

PCORI Redefines Research It Funds To Emphasize Results That Help Patients
The reform law's Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has redefined the scope of research it will fund to emphasize the importance of coming up with results that patients understand and can use. The PCORI board of governors also voted this week to fund multi-year research projects in a way that allows a greater number of projects to be started earlier, which board members say will increase the likelihood of scoring early wins for patient-centered research. (InsideHealthPolicy.com, March 9 2012)

PCORI Nails Down a Definition, at Last
It's taken more than a year, about 60 hours of face-to-face time, and countless hours on e-mail, for each of the 15 high-powered members on the working group of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. There have been drafts, and re-writes and countless iterations. Two university focus groups took it apart, it was revised, and then it went out for public comment. The 600 responses each were analyzed and categorized, resulting in more changes, more editing. (HealthLeaders Media, March 8, 2012)

China Sees Steady Rise in Healthcare Costs
China's efforts to overhaul the world's biggest healthcare system and the increased medical care demanded by a more prosperous and aging nation will push costs higher, according to Health Minister Chen Zhu. China is also taking a page from Britain, whose National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence (NICE) takes into account not only the benefits of particular medical tests or treatments in the guidelines it issues to physicians, but also their costs. (The Chicago Tribune, March 8, 2012)

Edging into the Center: Health Prevention, Improving the Research Process, and the Placebo Effect
It is often difficult to discern what is happening on the fringe of things and then decide whether any of it matters. In the last year, the center of health care has bulged with inevitably growing and demoralizing statistics of illness and costs, predictably warmed by the heat of presidential campaign rhetoric. But at its edge, centrifugal forces have been at work, tilting some usually obscure elements into the light. (HealthPolicyForum.org, March 8, 2012)

Pay Only for Drugs That Help You
IT'S hard not to be outraged by the fact that the United States spends $2.6 trillion per year on health care, far more than any other country, and has no better medical outcomes to show for it. Everyone agrees that we need to cut waste from the system. And it's understandable that, with reports of individuals taking $100,000 cancer drugs only to prolong survival by a few months, the high cost of drugs is one of the first targets. (The New York Times, March 6, 2012)

The Catch: The Effectiveness Research Pie
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is supposed to be spending $122 million this year on efforts to make sure that U.S. medical treatments really work and that treatment is delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible. PCORI is developing national priorities and a research agenda; comments are due March 15. (LifeHealthPro, March 5, 2012)

Inflating the Deficit with Futile Health Therapies
Cynics say Washington is the city where good ideas go to die. A promising strategy for holding down health care costs in the Obama administration's reform bill - providing patients and doctors with authoritative information on what works best in health care - should provide a classic test of that proposition, assuming the law survives the next election. Experts estimate anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the health care that Americans receive is wasted. It is either ineffective or does more harm than good. To put that in perspective, waste costs anywhere from $250 billion and $750 billion a year, or as much as three-fourths of the annual federal deficit. (The Fiscal Times, February 27, 2012)

Stakeholders Weigh In on Comparative Effectiveness Research
Patient advocates, researchers, medical insurers, and clinicians had no shortage of advice today for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) - an organization created by the 2010 US health-care reform act to spur research on the effectiveness of clinical therapies and services (see Opponents battle health care research). (nature.com, February 27, 2012)

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Names Engagement Team
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has appointed four veteran professionals to lead its communications, outreach and engagement team. They will ensure that PCORI's research is guided by the perspectives of patients, caregivers, clinicians and other health care stakeholders. Bill Silberg has been named as PCORI's first Director of Communications. He is joined by Director of Patient Engagement Judith Glanz, Director of Stakeholder Engagement Susan Hildebrandt, and Deputy Director of Patient Engagement Sue Sheridan. (Bradenton Herald, February 24, 2012)

Suppliers Participating in Comparative Effectiveness Research Program to Determine Safest, Most Efficient Care
Baxter International Inc., Deltex Medical and Nihon Kohden America Inc. have been selected to participate in the second phase of a voluntary program evaluating products and clinical interventions in real-world settings at Premier healthcare alliance hospitals. Premier's QUEST Comparative Effectiveness & Innovation Program generates objective results to inform providers and patients about safe, cost-effective treatments for certain clinical conditions. (marketwatch.com, February 20, 2012)

Submit Comments on PCORI's National Priorities and Research Agenda

PCORI was created to fund research that will give patients, caregivers, and clinicians more information to support health care decisions. The focus of PCORI's work is comparative clinical effectiveness research, the study of which prevention, treatment and care options work best. Input from patients, caregivers and the broader community is critical to PCORI's work. Please read the draft National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda and let PCORI know what you think. (pcori.org, March 2012)

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The Advantages of Comparative Effectiveness Research

Jerry Avorn, MD
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Chief, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Author, Powerful Medicines: the Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs (Knopf), Boston, MA