House panel neuters comparative effectiveness

A House committee has defanged comparative effectiveness. In an amendment added to the healthcare reform bill, lawmakers stipulate that the government can't use the research to dictate care. As you know, drugmakers had feared that the head-to-head studies would be used to favor lower-cost treatments over branded meds. If this amendment sticks, that won't happen.

According to Reuters, the Senate is also working on comparative-effectiveness provisions in its version of healthcare reform. Finance Chair Max Baucus supports creating a not-for-profit to conduct the research, but it would be a no-no to issue any medical practice guidelines or insurance-coverage recommendations based on the studies. So maybe those expensive lobbying efforts have borne fruit after all.

Of course all this is subject to change, and with Congress going into recess, we'll see a barrage of information and misinformation in the media. Interested parties on all sides will be spinning the news with a vengeance. The Senate Finance Committee won't even vote on its package till after the break. So everything is still up for grabs.

- read the Reuters story
- check out the Wall Street Journal update