Attention K-Mart Shoppers: Now available in Aisle 7 -- the new edition of Health Affairs

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  • 06/06/2006

Health Affairs dedicates a bunch of articles about the Oregon effort to compare drug effectiveness. We all know just how reliable and up to date literature reviews of old classes of medicines are, particularly in an era where genomics will help select medicines for patients and targeted therapies and diagnostics will shape clinical care. But let is not be said that Health Affairs is nothing by on the cutting edge of 20th century medicine. In any event, as part of it’s effort to give the underachieving access to peer review publications, it allows one Alan Heaton, head of pharmacy at the the Minn blues to weight in as follows: Give us the hard evidence for open formularies,” he demands in his Perspective. Heaton cautions that using evidence-based principles to pick superior products within drug classes risks giving the manufacturers of anointed products unwarranted pricing leverage. âIronically, pharmaceutical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to market product differentiation,â he observes, but âthe reality is that 80-90 percent of the population can use one drug, leaving only a small group who cannot tolerate that particular drug and need one or two other choices in a given class.”

So much brilliance here it is hard to know where to start …

Last time I checked, evidence based principles were being used to exclude drugs and select just one to drive down prices…or maybe Heaton is just a lousy businessman — as for the claim that one drug fits all — it is so scientifically without merit — SSRIs, atypicals, anticonvulsants, lipid lowering drugs, beta blockers and combination therapies thereof — that it hard to know where to begin except to extend my sympathy to the million of people who as suscribers of Minn BCBS have to suffer under Heaton’s harebrained decisions.


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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