Sunday, July 28, 2013

Why Health Systems Are an Unworkable Mess -- Reason #423: Medical Data Is Poorly Understood and Improperly Utilized

Scientists reviewed each issue of The New England Journal of Medicine from 2001 through 2010 and found 363 studies examining an established clinical practice. In 146 of them, the currently used drug or procedure was found to be either no better, or even worse, than the one previously used. The report appears in the August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
More than 40 percent of established practices studied were found to be ineffective or harmful, 38 percent beneficial, and the remaining 22 percent unknown. Among the practices found to be ineffective or harmful were the routine use of hormone therapy in postmenopausal women; high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant, a complex and expensive treatment for breast cancer that was found to be no better than conventional chemotherapy; and intensive glucose lowering in Type 2 diabetes patients in intensive care, which not only failed to reduce cardiovascular events but actually increased mortality.
From the NYTimes' Well Blog.  The pharmaceutical industry is not mentioned, but it's hard to look at this data and not think of the claims that many pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing and sales than on R&D.

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