As followers of Honest Medicine know, I have personally witnessed and reported on the outrageous amount of money that is being wasted by our healthcare system on expensive treatments that don’t work, while at the same time, ignoring inexpensive, non-toxic treatments that do work. (For two examples, please read here and here; and please take your time, while reading these articles; their contents will trouble, even shock, you.)
Because I have personally witnessed this kind of waste, I am very much in favor of the Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) that is being championed by the Obama Administration. A lot of money and three government agencies are being committed to this research. According to this March 16, 2009 Washington Post article, the $1.1 billion stimulus funds will be divided among 3 government bodies: the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will receive $300 million of the funds, while HHS and the NIH will divide the remainder. Also according to the Washington Post article, “Experts at the Institute of Medicine will spend the next several months prioritizing the research.” And, “For now, Obama has stopped short of advocating coverage decisions that combine clinical finding with cost effectiveness.”
All of this sounds very even-handed; very well-thought out. So, why am I afraid that -- although the administration’s words suggest that they understand that this waste exists, and that it must be controlled -- other evidence suggests that the only treatments that will be compared for effectiveness are the “same old same old” treatments that are considered to be “standard of care”? (Of course, treatments that are considered “standard of care” have undergone the “gold standard” of double-blind randomized clinical trials that have been paid for and supervised by Big Pharma! A troubling puzzle.)
Why am I concerned that only the “same old same old” treatments will be studied?