Monday, June 13, 2011

Conflicting Messages

What might these two seemingly unrelated items have in common:

TNR's Maisie Allison tipped us to "How American medicine is destroying itself." It begins with a 50 year old quote stating that "complete and lasting freedom from disease is but a dream remembered from imaginings of a Garden of Eden."

The question at the heart of the article is quite simple, really: Can we really conquer disease? At what price?

We've had a War on Poverty, a War on Drugs, a War on Illness. Untold billions (trillions?) of dollars later, victory has still not been achieved (and yes, defining "victory" is another challenge altogether). Are we spending our resources wisely?

Let's continue, shall we?

FoIB Bob D alerted us to this Policy Digest essay which asks "Will Comparative Effectiveness Research Kill More People than It Helps?"

The premise of this piece is that, among the myriad of potential treatment options available for a given diagnosis, it's often challenging to determine which one is the most effective. The process by which this is determined is called Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER), and it's one of the New, Hot Things© on the health care radar.

It's also the subject of a major push by the Feds to generate more cost effective health care results.

But will it?

According to a study by folks at the University of North Carolina (Hi, Jeff!) and the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, the answer is a resounding "Nope:"

"Instead, it will force cuts in pharmaceutical and medical device research and development, resulting in 32 million lost years of life and economic losses totaling $1.7 trillion."

And why is this?

Well, here's a clue:

"Health care costs are the focus of most policy considerations because this demand is heavily subsidized by taxpayers."

Ya think?

I believe that there are some dots that can be connected here. How about you?
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