This from New Scientist
NICE, the body the looks at the cost-effectiveness of new treatments, has been operating in the UK for the past 8 years. Now, the US is considering a similar proposal in the shape of a proposed Comparative Effectiveness Board (CEB), which would review the evidence on how well drugs work and whether they are cost-effective. If necessary, the CEB would carry out its own clinical trials. The idea is to break the pharmaceutical industry's stranglehold on drug prices and stop it peddling marginally effective medicines. The drug industry is already expressing its displeasure at the idea of a government body judging a drug's value for money.
Support for such a body is growing in both the public and private healthcare arenas. “There are cultural differences about how the role of government is viewed, and most Americans tend to be on the side of ‘less government’,” says Steve Pearson, of Harvard Medical School and a key proponent of the CEB. “But that's starting to change, as people have problems affording healthcare, and something has to give.”
Although drugs accounted for only about 12 per cent of what the US spent on healthcare in 2003, the cost of drugs has been escalating. Figures released by the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) on 31 January show that spending on drugs soared sevenfold from $96 per person in 1980 to $709 in 2003, well ahead of the next highest
The Democrats want to bring the collective bargaining power of Medicare and Medicaid to bear on the pharmaceutical industry by removing 2003 legislation that prevents haggling with the pharmaceutical companies
Not surprisingly, the drug industry is against the idea of a federally funded gatekeeper that might meddle in their negotiations with healthcare providers. A year ago, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents US drug companies, warned that 400,000 people with Alzheimer's would be denied new drugs, as would 9 million suffering from osteoporosis, if a gatekeeper decided on access to medicines.