Called CAFÉ (Comparison of Atypicals in First Episode Psychosis), AstraZeneca’s trial even echoed CATIE’s name. The two studies shared about 14 of the sites included in CATIE.
CAFÉ may have added information about another group of patients but it also improved the results for Seroquel noticeably and gave AstraZeneca something positive to say when the CATIE results were released.
The recent Post story raises issues about studies that might not have been reported to keep unfavorable information from the light of day.
The real world is even more complicated. As the CATIE/CAFÉ situation reminds, studies can be designed and run by similar teams that make it difficult to parse a useful meaning from the research. And that's an important message for the future.
During a period while the policy and budget communities in Washington are rallying around comparative effectiveness as a way to align health care spending with the most sensible and cost effective treatments, the CATIE experience is a useful warning of a tough road ahead for that effort.
Previous experience presages a particularly difficult path ahead for the advocates of comparative research as an educational tool – what could be called the Baucus school of comparative effectiveness.
The way comparative trials have been run to this point suggests there will be plenty of furrowed, confused brows in the future as well as raised eyebrows.