New Florida PIRG Study: “Comparative Effectiveness Research” in Health Care Cuts Costs, Improves Services

Media Contacts
Brad Ashwell

Florida PIRG

TALLAHASSEE – A new study shows that Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) can help doctors provide more effective care while cutting the skyrocketing cost of health care.

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research, a white paper released Tuesday by the Florida Public Interest Research Group (Florida PIRG), examines one of the more controversial pieces of the health care reform legislation making its way through Congress.

Comparative Effectiveness Research, or CER, is the scientific study of treatments, drugs, and medical devices to determine which is the most effective for which type of patient. Opponents claim it will result in doctors being told how to treat their patients.

But this attack misrepresents and misunderstands CER, which is neutral research into the best treatment options available.  Providing more information to doctors will allow them to better treat their patients, and evidence-based treatment protocols that take into account the different needs of specific kinds of patients have been shown to improve care and reduce the use of ineffective treatments.

“Doctors have been performing CER for centuries, and we’ve all reaped the benefits,” said Brad Ashwell, a Health Care Advocate for Florida PIRG.  “Now that hundreds of new drugs, devices, and treatments come onto the market every year, we need to increase our support for this valuable research so that we know what works.”

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research points out that for the majority of medical conditions, no research exists as to what the most effective treatments are. In fact, studies show that more than half of patients treated do not receive the recommended care, and many receive care that is ineffective or harmful.

“CER has been used to study everything from battlefield wounds to emphysema, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and the use of antibiotics to treat surgical infections,” continued Bernstein.  “World leaders in quality health care, including the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare use the results to provide the best treatments to their patients.”

Unfortunately, much medical research is conducted or funded by the very industries that stand to benefit from a finding that a drug or treatment is effective.  The report finds that many such privately- funded studies are biased and unreliable.

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research,  points to a tremendous need for further comparative effectiveness research into those medical conditions and for those types of patients for whom evidence does not exist.

“We need more CER—and we need to make sure it’s impartial, aimed at giving doctors the best information, rather than padding a drug company’s bottom line.  The federal government should step up its support of this research, to help doctors get the most up-to-date facts on what works,” concluded Ashwell.