Gray Lady On-Line Letters

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  • 10/25/2007
In the spirit of full and open dialogue, here are two letters-to-the-editor from today's on-line edition of the New York Times ...



Testing New Drugs
Published: October 25, 2007

Re “A Test of Bad Health” (Op-Ed, Oct. 18):

To the Editor:

Peter Pitts’s criticism of the proposed Center for Comparative Effectiveness exemplifies the scare tactics used by the pharmaceutical industry to protect its interests.

While he cites one example of delayed drug approval in Britain, he doesn’t mention the many cases in which comparative effectiveness studies have fostered timely and appropriate decisions to adopt or not adopt new drugs and other medical advances.

The use of government-sponsored studies to inform drug coverage decisions by government agencies is not “an inherent conflict of interest,” but rather the judicious exercise of government resources to serve the public interest.

Sadly, the casualties of President Bush’s veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill include not only the millions of children left uninsured, but also the hundreds of millions of Americans and their doctors who need better information to make the best possible decisions about their health care.

Alan B. Cohen
Boston, Oct. 18, 2007
The writer is a professor of health policy and management and the executive director of the Boston University Health Policy Institute.

To the Editor:

Peter Pitts warns that a proposed Center for Comparative Effectiveness to test new drugs would be dangerous because “conducting these studies is so tricky, their findings are regularly overturned or modified by further research.” Yet he would have us accept the company’s clinical trials showing the drug to be safe and effective?

One wonders why it is so tricky for the government to do this research, yet so simple for his pharmaceutical financiers to do the same.

Kevin Carlsmith
Hamilton, N.Y., Oct. 18, 2007

After all, everyone's entitled to their opinion.

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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