Funds OK’d to study effectiveness of prescription drugs, treatments


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004
Contact: Susan Herold, 202-462-6262

Funding to Study Effectiveness of Prescription Drugs, Treatments of Medical Conditions Applauded

$15 million ‘good start’ to help consumers make informed healthcare decisions

(Washington, D.C.) – The inclusion of $15 million in the 2005 appropriations bill to study the comparative effectiveness of medical treatments and prescription drugs is a critical first step to helping the government – and consumers – get the useful information they need to make important healthcare decisions, said Consumers Union’s Prescription for Change campaign.
“Unfortunately, many Americans rely on the biased information from the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries in making many of their healthcare decisions,” said Rob Schneider, manager of Prescription for Change, a grassroots advocacy effort by Consumers Union to improve the safety and cost of prescription drugs. “Consumers need real information, not drug company advertisements, when it comes to their healthcare.”
Added Gail Shearer, Consumers Union director of health policy analysis, “By funding this program, Congress is saying it is time to study the effectiveness of drugs and treatments so we all can make sound healthcare decisions based on scientific evidence.”
The Omnibus Appropriations bill passed recently by Congress included $15 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to perform clinical effectiveness research on drugs and medical procedures. The research program was called for in Section 1013 of last year’s Medicare Prescription Drug Act as a way for the federal government to make more cost-effective decisions on paying for treatments and prescription drugs, but had not been funded.
Consumers Union applauded the bipartisan Congressional leadership as well as the broad coalition that supported funding the program, including senior, consumer, physician, insurance, employer and labor organizations. While the Medicare legislation was for $50 million, the $15 million earmark this year is an important step to getting the effectiveness program underway. AHRQ is expected to announce soon what initial treatments it will study now that funding has been set.
“We are especially pleased that the legislation calls on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to provide the results of studies to the public in a form that can be easily understood,” Shearer added. -30-