It's the Economics, Stupid

Steve Halasey

March 1, 2008

2 Min Read
It's the Economics, Stupid


Considering the many steps that medtech manufacturers must accomplish before a new product sees the light of day, it's little wonder that they haven't been eager to undertake further studies once their products have been launched. Nevertheless, many device companies report that they are conducting more postmarket research about their products today than ever before, including studies required by FDA as well as studies designed to examine the clinical outcomes and costs related to the use of those products.

Now, with an infusion of funding expected to peak at $200 million annually, U.S. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D–MT) and Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D–ND) hope to push healthcare research to new levels. At the beginning of March, the two senators introduced the Comparative Effectiveness Research Act of 2008, which would establish a private, nonprofit research institute to compare the clinical effectiveness of alternative treatments for specific medical conditions. In a press release, Conrad stated, “Our goal with this bill is to give Americans and their doctors accurate and objective information to help them make medical decisions. Healthier people should mean lower healthcare costs.”

While noting its support for the principles of evidence-based medicine, industry organization AdvaMed (Washington, DC) was quick to caution against using the institute as a means to study health economics. “Research should focus on comparative clinical effectiveness, and not on cost-effectiveness—which could lead to decision making that may not be in the best interest of patients,” said AdvaMed president and CEO Stephen J. Ubl.

Considering the cost pressures being exerted on healthcare systems worldwide, however, it may be tough to keep that genie in the bottle. In spite of industry opposition, when researchers are given an opportunity to compare the effectiveness of different therapies, the temptation to take cost factors into account could prove overwhelming.

Copyright ©2008 MX

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