March 13, 2009 4:45PM

The Beginning of the End of All that Comparative‐​Effectiveness Research

In “A Better Way to Generate and Use Comparative‐​Effectiveness Research,” I predicted that taxpayer‐​funded research on which medical treatments work best would ultimately be defunded at the behest of those who make a living providing the less‐​effective treatments. Because, well, that’s what always happens.

Well, it turns out those folks have gone and formed themselves a coalition and launched a media campaign to ensure that comparative‐​effectiveness research doesn’t put a dent in their incomes. According to the Associated Press:

People’s lives and plenty of money are at stake when it comes to determining which medical treatments work best.

So some prominent health industry and patient advocacy groups are trying to reframe the debate over how such decisions are made in order to ensure their interests are protected…

It’s a big concern for drug and biotech companies too since they could lose out if a treatment they’ve developed is found to be less effective than a competitor’s. But a drug company’s bottom line isn’t likely to draw as much public sympathy as a disabled person’s needs.

That makes [former Rep. Tony] Coelho a good face for the Partnership to Improve Patient Care, which formed as the issue began to surface last fall and is funded by groups including the Easter Seals, Friends of Cancer Research, the Alliance for Aging Research, the Advanced Medical Technology Association and the powerful pharmaceutical and biotech industry lobbies.

It also makes the Partnership to Improve Patient Care the very type of “patient‐​provider pincer movement” of which Tom Daschle wrote in his book.