French Twist

  • by: |
  • 04/05/2007
I've just returned from a breakfast (kindly organized by the Government of France) with seven leading French journalists. The topic: health care. Needless to say, it was a wide-ranging conversation. A few items of note:

(1) My French is really rusty.

(2) While the systems in France and the US are very different, we share many of the same problems -- the biggest being government focus on cost rather than care.

(3) We spent a lot of time talking about how to measure the beneft of incremental innovation -- as well as what incremental innovation means and why any conversation on this topic must also include (and to a very large extent) how to expand the use of existing medicines in additional ways. We talked off-label usage.

(4) We talked comparative effectiveness and whether or not current measurements of such are legitimate ways to determine reimbursement decisions. (In other words, we spent a lot of time talking about the inappropriate ways payors -- public and private, HAS and DERP -- use general population RCTs to make "me too"/either-or decisions.

(5) And we talked about patient information. Empowering the consumer? Mon Dieu!

(6) And the fact that patient groups that are government funded are unlikely to be real patient advocates when it comes to therapeutic reimbursement decisions.

(7) And we talked about the importance of prevention programs. (Although I must add that, after the breakfast was over, they all went outside for a smoke.)

But the general theme that drove the entire conversation was, as mentioned above, what happens when cost trumps care and short-term political concerns dwarf long-term consequences.

And, no matter what language you're speaking, it sure sounds familiar.

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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