New OHSU Center Will Compare Similar Drugs for Effectiveness

12/04/03    Portland, Ore.

Unbiased reports based on the best available data on 25 classes of drugs will help policy-makers and consumers make better drug choices.

For the first time, head-to-head comparisons of entire classes of drugs will be available to public and private organizations, and ultimately consumers, through a newly established policy center at Oregon Health & Science University headed by Oregon's former Gov. John Kitzhaber, M.D.

While most drug effectiveness studies compare individual medications to placebos, the new OHSU Center for Evidence-based Policy will commission reports that compare drugs in the same class to one another. For example, one heartburn and ulcer medication will be compared to another heartburn and ulcer medication. Effectiveness comparisons will be made in 25 separate drug classes.

This effort will provide subscribing organizations with scientific data to make public policy, such as drug purchasing decisions, and will help establish international standards for effectiveness comparisons between drugs in the same class.

"The Center for Evidence-based Policy will connect policy-makers to the best research available," Kitzhaber said. "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 drug manufacturers."

The governments of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin and other states and organizations interested in the research will contract with the Center for Evidence-based Policy to commission specific drug-to-drug research, choosing which drug classes they most need studied and what questions the research will answer. For instance, the states may commission a report to determine which hormone replacement combination - if any - is safest and most efficacious.

The Center for Evidence-based Policy will build on work begun by the state of Oregon under Kitzhaber. Reviews for 12 classes of drugs, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as several heart, blood pressure and cholesterol agents, are already under way. The reports are based on the systematic review of existing clinical research that takes into consideration available scientific evidence and the quality of that evidence. Because these reports will be used in the public decision-making process, they will ultimately become available to consumers.

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