The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative-Effectiveness Research welcomed healthcare representatives and members of the public to the first of three listening sessions in Washington on April 14. Earlier this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized $1.1 billion to federal agencies for a two-year project that will conduct research on the relative strengths and weaknesses of various medical interventions, including drugs, devices and procedures.
As she began the meeting, council member Carolyn Clancywho is the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualityasked that registered lobbyists be clear in identifying themselves during the discussion. The three-hour session invited discussants for three different panels, and certain themes were repeated often, such as the need for the process to be transparent, collaborative, and inclusive of patients.
Representing the group Consumers Union, Steve Findlay said the comparative-effectiveness initiative presents a unique opportunity for federal agencies to develop a strong and clear policy on conflict of interest, and requested that the council begin by strongly urging that 100% disclosure be required of both researchers and institutions involved. We are not naïve, said Findlay, who is managing editor of the groups Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. Creating a conflict-free zone will take time.
The other two listening sessions are tentatively scheduled for May 6 and May 13, with one of those to be held outside of Washington, Clancy said. Public comments will be accepted through the end of May.