A series of reports comparing scientific data on the effectiveness of drugs, to be offered by a new organization directed by former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, M.D., aims to improve drug-purchase decisionmaking.
The project, based at the new Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., builds on an effort started by Kitzhaber in the Oregon Health Plan, which worked to stem drug costs by reviewing the effectiveness of the most widely used classes of prescription drugs.
Contracting subscribers pay the center $96,000 a year for three years for access to 25 systematic drug-class effectiveness reviews, according to CEBP deputy director Mark Gibson. Ten entities already have signed agreements, Gibson says, including the governments of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, the not-for-profit California Health Care Foundation and the not-for-profit Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment. About eight other contracts are under review, he says.
Twelve complete drug reports are currently available and will be updated every six months, Gibson says, offering examples such as proton pump inhibitors for treating heartburn and ulcers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis and joint pain, and statins, or cholesterol-lowering drugs. The other 13 comparisons will be completed over the next 18 month, he says.
The reports are generated after literature reviews by three evidence-based practice centers, designated as such by the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Each drug study, which takes seven to nine months, answers three main issues, Gibson says: the comparative effectiveness of drugs in a class; comparative adverse event profiles; and any sub-groups for which the evidence shows there may be a differential response.
"The Center for Evidence-based Policy will connect policy-makers to the best research available," says Kitzhaber in a written statement. "In pharmaceuticals, for example, if one drug is found to be more effective than others in a class, purchasers may want to encourage its use. Alternatively, if all are found to be equal, then purchasers should demand price competition among manufacturers."