Who bilked the AHRQ?

  • by: |
  • 04/25/2014

One day before her resignation, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to Congressman Bill Cassidy (R, LA). One of the subjects was academic detailing.

According to Secretary Sebelius:

AHRQ no longer conducts an academic detailing program as of September 2013.

But what happened to tax dollars already spent?

In October 2010, AHRQ awarded five grants for a program on academic detailing and the “communication of CER results to physicians”.  This program to disseminate CER findings is supported by $29.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka, “the stimulus package”).

* One contract, for $11.7 million, went to Total Therapeutic Management (TTM) and is specifically intended for physician outreach and education

The goal of this contract was to integrate AHRQ’s comparative effectiveness research, products, and tools into clinical practice through 9,000 on-site, face-to-face visits with clinicians, nurses, health plan formularies, benefit managers, and other healthcare professionals. 

According to TTM’s Barry Patel, “the AHRQ AD project to disseminate CER findings was a 3 year program that was scheduled to end in September 30th. The project has been over since Sept 30th 2013 as scheduled.”  

Other recipient’s of the $29.5 million were:

* Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Healthcare Division: $18 million to create a publicity center and another contract for $8.6 to create regional dissemination centers.

* Prime Education (an educational design and accreditation company focused on continuing medical education programs): $4 million as a “continuing education award.”

* IMPAQ International (a social science research and consulting firm that specializes in impact evaluations for a client base of predominantly U.S. government agencies): $2.4 million to evaluate the impact of the other four contracts.

Maybe it’s time for Congressman Paul Ryan to call a hearing to discuss the, um, outcomes of that $25.9 million.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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