Americans For Prosperity's Eric Novack Repeats Health Care Falsehoods In Washington Post Letter

July 10, 2009 11:49 am ET

In a letter to the editor in the July 10, 2009 edition of the Washington Post, Americans for Prosperity's Eric Novack propagated common conservative falsehoods regarding comparative effectiveness research.

AFP's Eric Novack Falsely Implied Government Panel Would Review Medical Procedures

Novack: "Last Thanksgiving, I had the honor of taking care of a 94-year-old woman who fell and broke her hip... If her surgery had to have been approved by a government panel, how many bureaucrats do you think would have supported spending the money on a 94-year-old with medical issues?" [Novack Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, 7/10/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research council will simply evaluate treatments, NOT "approve" or "recommend" clinical treatments.

Council "Will Not Recommend Clinical Guidelines."  The published guidelines for the Council are very clear about the decisions its members will make: The Federal Coordinating Council For Comparative Effectiveness Research "will not recommend clinical guidelines for payment, coverage or treatment." [HHS.gov, 3/19/09, emphasis added]

Comparing The Effectiveness Of Medical Treatments

Novack: "Government-led comparative effectiveness research is about control and cost-cutting when it comes to our health -- not about improving it." [Novack Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, 7/10/09]

Comparative Effectiveness Research Is Simply The Comparison Of Medical Treatments.  According to the Washington Post's Business Columnist, Steven Pearlstein, "comparative effectiveness research" refers to "research done by doctors and statisticians who troll through large number of patient records to determine, for any particular disease, which treatments work best." [Washington Post, 2/13/09]

CER Supplements Physicians' Knowledge To Ensure The Best Treatment Is Provided To The Patient.  David Dale, MD of the American College of Physicians testified in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing: "The availability of valid, comparative effectiveness data supplemented by the physician's clinical experience and professional knowledge, helps ensure that an effective treatment choice is made-one that meets the unique needs and preferences of the patient." [American College Of Physicians' Statement for the Record, 6/12/07]

Funding Comparative Effectiveness Research Is NOT A New Practice

NIH Had A Budget Of $335 Million For Comparative Effectiveness Research Last Year.  According to Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post, "there's nothing particularly new about comparative effectiveness research -- the National Institutes of Health, along with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, have been doing it for years, with a budget last year of about $335 million." [Washington Post, 2/13/09]

Research Must Be Conducted By An Impartial Third-Party, Like The Government

Conducting Research Trials Is Not Always Financially Beneficial For Private Companies. According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: "For drug manufacturers, the costs of conducting additional trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy for a broader set of patients or conditions may outweigh the benefits from the increased sales that would result; in particular, the potential gains from finding a favorable result for a different population would have to be weighed against the risk that safety and efficacy could not be demonstrated conclusively." [CBO.gov, 12/07]

Private Companies Only Compare Drugs When Seeking "To Make A Claim Of Superiority."  According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: "Clinical trials of new drugs must compare them to alternative medications only when the manufacturer wants to make a claim of superiority in its FDA-approved marketing materials or when giving trial participants a placebo would be unethical (for example, in the case of a study of AIDS drugs)." [CBO.gov, 12/07, parenthesis original]

"Comparative Trials Can Be Risky For Manufacturers To Conduct."  According to a December 2007 report released by the Congressional Budget Office titled Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: "A trial of two statin drugs, which was sponsored by the maker of one of those drugs, found that its competitor's product was more effective both at lowering cholesterol levels and at reducing the risk of mortality - illustrating the point that comparative trials can be risky for manufacturers to conduct." [CBO.gov, 12/07, parenthesis original]

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