Comparative effectiveness research faces obstacles in changing how doctors practice

The comparative effectiveness research program that is getting $3.5 billion in federal funding through 2019 under the Affordable Care Act aims to deliver actionable information to help physicians and patients decide among competing treatment options.

That money is meant to fix what many experts see as a market failure. To get Food and Drug Administration approval, pharmaceutical companies need not demonstrate that their drug is superior to others already approved. Once drugs and other treatments are available on the market, there is little financial incentive for companies to fund expensive studies that may show their option is inferior.

Yet an analysis of high-profile comparison trials during the past decade suggests that a lack of funding for comparative research has not been the only obstacle to using top-flight evidence to shape patient care. Even when they contradict prevailing practice, comparative effectiveness studies often fail to translate into substantial changes in patient care, said a study in the October issue of Health Affairs.

My latest. Read the whole shebang.