Researchers have not made many efforts in the past few years to analyze whether specific medical treatments are worth the cost.
Analysts at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked into the state of comparative effectiveness research at the request of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee — and two colleagues.
James Cosgrove, a GAO director, says the analysts searched four major scientific research databases — EMBASE, MEDLINE, SciSearch and ProQuest — for the period from January 2007 through April 2014, using keywords such as “prevent” and “value.” They looked for papers published in English that had an abstract or executive summary and studied a U.S. population.
The analysts found just 29 papers that met their criteria. In some papers, the authors considered the effectiveness of more than one medical treatment. The authors of the papers came up with evidence supporting the cost-effectiveness of just 19 of the treatments considered.
The paper authors concluded, for example, that giving influenza vaccinations to healthy infants, children, elderly people and high-risk people is probably worth the money. The authors found no evidence that rubella vaccinations, pneumococcal vaccinations, or most types of preventive screenings were worth the money.