Comparative effectiveness bill hits Senate

How do different antidepressants stack up? Blood-pressure meds? Diabetes drugs? Do we know? Well, Sen. Max Baucus says he aims to find out: He's introduced a bill that would create an institute for comparative-effectiveness research. The not-for-profit would operate separately from the government, but would include reps from Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality--plus drug and device makers, patients, and doctors.

The institute would be funded by public and private payers--a.k.a. Medicare and insurance companies. “Doctors and patients need reliable, unbiased information about the effectiveness of treatments to determine the best care possible," Baucus said in a statment, "but right now that data is scarce and unorganized."

Not everyone is sold on the comparative effectiveness idea. Some fear that it would end up going the way of the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence--which, though well respected, does get into hot water from time to time for rejecting treatments based on cost. We'll see who prevails.

- read the press release
- see the post at Pharmalot