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Senate to Consider Comparative Effectiveness Institute Bill

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A bill to create a national institute to study comparative clinical effectiveness of medical treatments and diagnostics — including the use of molecular medicine and genetics to inform those studies — was introduced in the US Senate this week by Senators Max Baucus (D – Mont.) and Kent Conrad (D – ND).

The bill calls for the creation of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which would be a non-profit entity run by "a multi-stakeholder, public-private sector board of governors," Baucus said in a floor statement to the Senate on Tuesday.

The institute, which would be funded by both public and private support, would be charged with "setting national health care priorities" for comparative effectiveness research, Baucus said, but it would not be involved in setting specific medical policies and would not be an agency of the federal government.

The research it would commission and review would include a wide range of approaches, including "molecularly informed" studies and the use of genetics to identify which patients may respond to which treatments.

"From cars to toasters, Americans are able to readily view and evaluate information about the quality and effectiveness of so many of the items that they buy. It seems only logical that they should have information on what works and what does not when it comes to their health, especially with one in every six of this country's dollars being spent on health care," Baucus said.

The institute would have the authority to contract with government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Health Care Research as well as private researchers to conduct studies, and it would be responsible for disseminating the findings from those programs.

These activities could include primary research such as randomized clinical trials and observational studies, reviews and assessments of existing research and evidence, and other methodologies the committee recommends.

The bill will await review by the Senate Committee on Finance, of which Baucus currently serves as chairman.

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