Bloomberg has a long article out this morning, on the topic -- highlighting Harvard's hiring of five new faculty members to conduct such research -- do go read it all, but here is a snippet:
. . . .[Comparative effectiveness studies are an important part of] Obama’s health bill, signed into law March 23. The legislation builds on $1.1 billion designated for this research in the stimulus bill and creates an institute specializing in comparative studies, with at least $500 million in annual funding starting in 2013. Doctors. . . and insurance companies led by UnitedHealth Group Inc. are racing to take advantage of the influx of money and increased focus.
The research pits multiple treatments against one other to determine the best outcome for patients -- such as figuring out whether a particular drug is better at addressing high blood pressure than other medicines or lifestyle changes. Such studies can also indicate which therapies give the most benefit for their cost, said John Sullivan, an analyst with Leerink Swann & Co., a Boston investment bank that focuses on health care. . . .
"We have to do a better job of being able to say to doctors and their patients what constitutes effective care, both cost effective and clinically effective," Sullivan said. "That’s what comparative effectiveness research can do. . . ."
Indeed. Armed with this sort of research, expensive and dubiously-effective "me too" drugs -- like Vytorin® -- will likely become less commonplace. Or, at least, reimbursement for such drugs will be less commonplace.