KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Comparative Effectiveness Tested in Diabetes Study, VA Records Release

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found common surgical interventions and stents, the expensive medical devices used in bypass surgeries, are no more effective at preventing death, heart attacks and strokes in diabetic patients than less expensive drugs, the Wall Street Journal reports. The study, which included 2,368 patients, is representative of new interest in head-to-head comparisons of treatments.

"Funding for similar 'comparative effective' studies have just been given a big boost. These bake-offs between competing therapies for the same condition have been hailed as a possible answer to wasteful health-care spending in the U.S. Washington allocated $1.1 billion for such research in the economic-stimulus bill passed in February," the Journal reports (Winstein, 6/8).

Comparative effectiveness research requires scientists to tap health provider's patient-care data. To that end, the Department of Veterans Affairs is opening their electronic medical records to researchers across the system, American Medical News reports. "The de-identified, aggregated data of veterans will allow researchers to pinpoint the most effective treatments for specific conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder and antibiotic-resistant staph infection ... The VA says the result will be broader clinical studies that will provide physicians, both inside and out of the system, with better data on the best treatment methods for various conditions" (Dolan, 6/8). 

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