The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest recently held a conference on large scale comparative effectiveness studies. (Report can be found at http://cmpi.org/archives/2007/08/new_cmpi_report.php) As Gottlieb mentioned, one government study (ALLHAT) didnâ€™t prove its hypothesis that older drugs are more effective in controlling blood pressure.
At the CMPI conference Dr. Michael Weber (an original member of the ALLHAT team) revealed that â€œALLHAT exposed African-American patients for several years to treatments investigators knew would not be effective in controlling their blood pressure -- something so unethical that if a pharmaceutical company had done it or any of us as individual academics had done it, we would not only be thrown out of our jobs, we would be pilloried and maybe even be facing criminal charges. The study was driven entirely by a 40% excess stroke rate in black patients that was predictable before the study began. And they used that as their reason to claim superiority of the diuretic.â€
The government ran a study denying African Americans needed care to make a political point: cheaper drugs are better. Because ALLHAT is perceived as anti-industry no one cares if the regimen harms people. Is this the kind of comparative effectiveness we want â€“ or that patientâ€™s need?