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AHRQ Offering $100M for Comparative Effectiveness

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality plans to provide $100 million in stimulus funding in the coming fiscal year to support studies of the effectiveness of treatments and diagnostics, including personalized healthcare approaches, such as pharmacogenetics, clinical diagnostics, and bio-imaging studies.

These research programs may last up to three years and may receive up to $10 million in total costs, with up to $4 million in costs per year. AHRQ plans to conduct a review of these studies after the first year to evaluate if it will continue funding the programs.

The projects could entail a range of approaches, including prospective studies that explore the outcomes of pharmacogenetic testing in guiding selection of therapeutic interventions, evaluation of new imaging technologies to diagnose or monitor treatments, and prospective and longitudinal cohort studies of effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of diagnostics, devices, and drugs.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness, including $300 million to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; $400 million for the National Institutes of Health; and $400 million for the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

A report this past summer by the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, which was created by the ARRA, proposed that comparative effectiveness should "complement the trend in medicine to develop personalized medicine," and should use the ability to investigate drug and dosage effects at the sub-group level in ways that are difficult in randomized trials.

"This essential patient centered research will help give patients and doctors more information so they can make the best decisions," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement accompanying the report.

A recent report from the Institute of Medicine listed priority areas for CER studies. The list included studies that compare the effectiveness of patient decision support tools on informing diagnostic and treatment decisions; adding information about new biomarkers (including genetic information) with standard care in motivating behavior change and improving clinical outcomes; diagnostic imaging performed by non-radiologists and radiologists; and alternative clinical management strategies for hepatitis C, including alternative duration of therapy for patients based on viral genomic profile and patient risk factors.

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