Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rebranding Health Care Reform

News flash: The debate over comparative effectiveness research is over!

No, nothing actually happened--its just that the sponsors of legislation to create a new comparative research agency have responded to the controversy surrounding the issue by re-branding it. As we report in "The Pink Sheet" DAILY, Sen. Max Baucus has introduced a new bill that follows closely on his comparative research proposal from 2008--but now calls it "Patient-centered outcomes research" instead of "comparative effectiveness research" or "comparative clinical effectiveness research." Or, "cost-effectiveness research"--except no one in politics EVER calls it that.

Baucus joked about the change during a keynote address at a policy conference hosted by Brookings June 9 that focused on comparative effectiveness research. (Brookings obviously didn't get the memo on the new branding.) The Finance Committee chairman quipped that he would call it "Fred" if it helped defuse the emotion around the issue.

And there is alot of emotion. As our colleagues at On The Road note, libertarians protested the Brookings event, comparing President Obama's health care reformers--and Obama himself--to Nazis.

Anyhow, CER is out, P-COR is in.

Re-branding is fun, of course. In fact, we think its well under way in the effort to create an abbreviated pathway for approval of biologics, where what was once a debate about "generic biologics" was rebranded as "follow-on biologics." That satisfied innovator companies concerned about the implication of interchangeability inherent in the word generic.

Now policy makers are concerned about evergreening, so "follow-on" isn't quite right anymore. Which is why the European term "biosimilars" is now coming to the fore.

Still, we can't help but think that Congress should get some professional help in all this. After all, no one does branding as well as pharma. So maybe comparative effectiveness could become "National Organization to Direct Research for Understanding Good Science" (NO-DRUGS).

That's CER industry could get behind....

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