Comparative effectiveness money inspires hiring, dealmaking

The stimulus bill funding for comparative effectiveness research is already making its way onto the streets, backing new studies and spawning a series of related acquisitions, Bloomberg reports.

For instance, Harvard Medical School's Jerry Avorn--a frequent critic of drug marketing--has hired five new faculty for his Brigham & Women's Hospital Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics to help study the real-world effectiveness of various treatments. Avorn's group has nabbed $14 million in stimulus money (plus other government grants and funding from companies such as CVS Caremark) to fund more comparative effectiveness work. By comparison, his annual budget usually runs about $5 million.

Meanwhile, the government's funding push has inspired some dealmaking. A unit of UnitedHealth bought QualityMetric, a company that measures how patients rate the effectiveness of care, Bloomberg notes, while Aetna bought ActiveHealth Management, which provides programs to analyze patient data--a key element of comparative effectiveness research.

More expansion into comparative effectiveness is sure to come, experts tell the news service--some of them involving drugmakers. Paul Keckley of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions says pharma companies may look into buying companies that do comparative studies or hire more workers to crunch the numbers; doing their own research could help drugmakers defend their products against any slights from government-funded research, Keckley adds.

Of course, the activity will pick up even more after 2013, when the healthcare reform bill's $3 billion in funding for comparative studies starts to kick in.

- read the Bloomberg piece