• Editorial

How to waste a billion dollars


Kamerow, D. (2009). How to waste a billion dollars. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 338(7709), b2432. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b2432


Comparative effectiveness research (CER) is all the rage in the United States right now. It seems that everywhere you turn a conference or meeting or briefing on CER is being conducted. I knew it had got ridiculous when I saw an advertisement (and a website) for an upcoming "national summit" on CER sponsored by a for-profit medical conference company, "featuring a comparative effectiveness boot camp." (Let’s see now, calculating quality adjusted life years while wearing olive drab fatigues?) I am not making this up. The term "comparative effectiveness research" seems to be a relatively recent US coinage, but the concept has been around for ever. It is usually called technology assessment. The idea is to figure out which drug, device, treatment, or diagnostic test works best for a given condition in a given population.