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Government should back money-saving medical devices, drug development: study


By Steven Ross Johnson
Posted: April 22, 2014 - 2:45 pm ET
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Government should promote the development of new medical devices and medications that provide more value and so help reduce overall healthcare costs, according to a new study funded by the RAND Corp.

The National Institutes of Health should create financial incentives, such as awarding cash prizes, buying out invention patents and forming a public-interest investment fund, for pharmaceutical companies and medical-device makers to work on developing scientific breakthroughs that also address healthcare spending, the study states.

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Other recommendations included expediting the Food and Drug Administration's review of new drugs and devices that would decrease health spending to get them to market faster. Also suggested—changing rules governing the CMS to allow the agency to be able to favor in its Medicare coverage technologies that are shown to help save money.

Another approach recommended calls for the development of technologies that help give more accurate and timely health assessments of patients to identify the health services more likely to help their outcomes. Once those are identified, the study suggests requiring patients to pay higher out-of-pocket expenses for those services that are found less helpful while having them pay less for those that are more effective.

“We spend more than $2 trillion a year on healthcare in the U.S.—more per capita than any other nation,” Steven Garber, lead author of the study and a senior economist at RAND, said in a written release. “The financial incentives for innovators, investors, physicians, hospitals and patients often lead to decisions that increase spending with little pay back in terms of health improvement.”

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson


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