• by: |
  • 09/04/2007
In his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Scott Gottlieb reveals how government-run comparative studies reflect a desire to focus on cost rather than care – and not (as often claimed) to usher in an era of science-based efficiency in medicine.

The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest recently held a conference on large scale comparative effectiveness studies. (Report can be found at As Gottlieb mentioned, one government study (ALLHAT) didn’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 “ALLHAT 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.”

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 – or that patient’s need?

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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