As you may recall, the debate over the economic stimulus featured an intense argument over whether to fund comparative effectiveness studies--that is, research into which drugs, devices, and procedures actually work best and for whom.

CE, as the wonks call it, is an essential ingredient of a high-functioning health care system. But the idea came under assault from conservatives who objected to the intrusion of government into medicine and from interest groups whose members profit from less effective treatments.

Merrill Goozner

The Institute of Medicine panel slated to make recommendations for the $1.1 billion earmarked for comparative effectiveness research has no representation from broad-based consumer or patient advocacy groups, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. ... While the proposed 16-member panel included five physician specialists, three medical technology assessment experts, three insurers (two of which are also provider networks), and three officials currently or formerly associated with Medicare, the only patient or consumer representative named to the panel’s tentative roster was from the Alzheimer’s Association, a single-issue patient advocacy group that receives substantial support from the drug industry.

Merrill has the rest of the story over at his blog, Gooznews (which, by the way, you should start reading regularly if you aren't already).

Jonathan Cohn