Todayâ€™s case-in-point is a new study by AHRQ. The headline on the UPI wire is â€œStudy: Brand-name drugs fuel cost increase."
The lede graph reads as follows:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. brand-name drug spending helped fuel a doubling of spending on outpatient prescription drugs from 1999 to 2003, a new study says. During those years, total consumer spending on drugs purchased outside of hospitals increased to $178 billion per year, according to a new report by Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Interesting numbers, big numbers â€“ but without any real context. For example, what percentage of that spend is for medicines not previously available? Whatâ€™s the breakdown between new and existing scripts? How does that increase corelate to reduced costs in, for example, hospitalization?
And what about improved patient outcomes?
Minus these important variables, all this new report will do is aid and abet the Evangelists of Evidence-Based Medicine and fuel the fire of those pundits and politicians for whom the crisis in American health care can be simplistically summed in the four words, â€œdrugs are too expensive.â€