The Daily: Agency sets an unhealthy precedent for ‘effectiveness’ research

Imagine that all the pharmaceutical companies united to create an institute for quality research, and gave it $1 billion to study “comparative effectiveness” — whether drugs still under patent worked better for people than cheaper generics. Imagine that the pharma companies dug farther into their pockets and came up with another $11 million to train physicians, pharmacists and nurses to be ambassadors for this institute, and that these ambassadors would travel the country offering $4 million worth of further education credits to any doctors or nurses who would agree to listen to their spiel.

If you’re thinking that this is, in fact, what Big Pharma already does, remember, this is still a hypothetical exercise. In reality, such a plan would never get by the Food and Drug Administration, which is to drug marketing what the Spanish Inquisition was to heresy. But if, somehow, such a project were ever to happen, you’d seriously doubt whether it would be unbiased, wouldn’t you? It strains credibility to think that the pharmaceutical industry would go to such expense to say that the cheaper drugs were just as good as the expensive ones.

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