WSJ Examines Evaluations of Clinical Trials by Health Insurers, Others
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined research by insurers, state Medicaid programs and not-for-profit groups to evaluate clinical trials for prescription drugs and identify any "marketing spin" included in studies published in medical journals. For example, officials at Kaiser Permanente say they have reduced costs by "vetting drug studies to ensure they choose the drugs that work best," the Journal reports. Physician panels make the final decision whether to include a drug in the Kaiser formulary, but the panels rely heavily on preliminary reports prepared by Kaiser staff.
Not-for-profit groups, such as the Cochrane Collaboration and the Drug Effectiveness Review Project in Oregon, also are analyzing and critiquing studies in reports. Siri Childs, head of pharmacy policy for the Washington state Medicaid program, said, "We know now that just because it's published in a medical journal, that doesn't assure its quality." However, some doctors and pharmaceutical companies say insurers and HMOs are using the research to justify blocking members' access to "useful but expensive treatments," according to the Journal (Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 8/24).