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Real concerns about research

March 02, 2009

Re "It's a warning shot in healthcare fight," Feb. 24

I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in August 2007. I lost my health coverage in February 2008. I now cannot afford to take any of the life-saving steps prescribed for my cancer. At this point, I don't even know if I am cancer-free.

The claims made by conservative commentators about comparative effectiveness research are outlandish at best and scare tactics at worst. This seems like a false controversy stirred up by the big drug and medical device companies, which want to block healthcare reform.

Those companies are worried about their profits. I think they should be more concerned with patient care than with lining their pockets.

Renee Gueits

Fontana

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Though correct in identifying the hysterics of those like Rush Limbaugh and Betsy McCaughey, The Times' article falls short in addressing some of the real concerns shared by patients -- and, yes, industry -- when it comes to comparative effectiveness research.

Such research is an important tool to empower patients and their doctors to make better-informed treatment decisions, but the driving force behind it in Washington seems to be its use as a cost-containment tool. Yes, comparative effectiveness research can save money, but it also can point out treatments and procedures that are underused.

As we've seen in other countries, when cost is the driving factor, effectiveness studies have been used to deny patients access to medicines and technologies that work, and work well. That is unacceptable in the United States.

Todd Gillenwater

Washington

The writer is vice president for public policy at the California Healthcare Institute.

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