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Insurers jump onto the research questioning bandwagon

From the Wall Street Journal (free access for seven days): Reading Fine Print, Insurers Question Studies of Drugs: Kaiser's Veteran Sleuth Scours Medical-Journal Articles And Sees Marketing Spin. A snip:

    When Eli Lilly & Co. wanted to get the big California health-maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente to use its new antidepressant, it ran straight into Debbie Kubota.

    Two studies published in psychiatry journals described the new drug, called Cymbalta, as "superior" to the older antidepressants Prozac and Paxil. But Dr. Kubota, a Kaiser pharmacist here, observed that in both studies the patients who did the best on Cymbalta received a higher dose of it than recommended on the label. Although each article mentioned the superiority of Cymbalta in its abstract, or summary, both acknowledged lower down that the studies weren't designed to show whether one drug was better than another.

    Dr. Kubota's conclusion: The claim of superiority was "speculative." She issued a negative report to Kaiser's physician committees, which agreed and ruled that Kaiser would bar Cymbalta from its list of favored drugs for its biggest regions, Northern and Southern California.

Now this could have some impact on the whole field.

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