Some conservatives might be shouting from the rooftops that federal funding for comparative effectiveness research on drugs, medical devices, surgeries, etc., will lead our nation inexorably toward government rationing of health care. One pharmaceutical executive I recently spoke with says he just doesn't see it.
The economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Obama earlier this year provides $1.1 billion for scientific research on the comparative effectiveness of medical treatments. The idea behind it is to develop a better body of knowledge about whether, say, one cholesterol medicine works better than another one in a certain type of patient.
To critics, though, it conjures up a nightmare scenario in which Uncle Sam uses the results of this research to decree that we can only take the drug that "wins" in the study and/or is less expensive. Countries with nationalized health care systems, such as the U.K., have government agencies that make these kinds of decisions (though it's not nearly as simple as that).
AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan was in Washington last Friday and met with reporters for an hour-long discussion that touched on a lot of issues but, given that I'd written about this comparative effectiveness controversy before, I asked him what he thought about those dire pronouncements of what it could mean for our health care system.