Comparative effectiveness research is the big buzzword these days. I can’t turn my head 360 degrees without having heard the word thrown at me at least three or four times. The newly fanned health care reform debate, along with the perennial search for a panacea for outcome measurements, is no doubt fueling the demand for tools such as CER. In my opinion though, the debate over the use of CER is not the real issue here. The real issue is how far we can take a tool like CER and how much benefit we can derive from it.  

CER has not been widely applied in studies assessing the value of therapeutics, unlike in other market segments, including life sciences and pharma manufacturing, where it’s commonplace. There’s likely many reasons for this, not least of which is the relative lack of controls that regulators put on some health care operations. For example, opening a lab requires CLEA certification, but that process is nowhere as complex and drawn-out as the clinical trial requirements for a new drug launch, which leads to the necessity of leveraging comparative effectiveness and other existing research studies to shorten the trial time.

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