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Science Magazine: The Health Bill's Cures for Research

By Jocelyn Kaiser

The landmark health care reform bill passed by the House of Representatives last night and headed to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature is mostly about expanding health insurance coverage. But buried within the 2400 pages of the bill are three provisions that touch on clinical research.

Most directly tied to health care is language creating a new, independent, non-profit institute for comparative effectiveness research (CER)—evidence-based studies that compare the value of medical treatments, such as two different drugs or a specific drug versus surgery. Another section of the legislation creates a translational research program within the NIH director's office aimed at drug development. Called the Cures Acceleration Network, it is the brainchild of NIH champion Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), who first introduced his idea almost a year ago.

The bill also aims to shed light on the payments that drug and medical device companies make to physicians and hospitals. Starting in 2013, it will require that such companies file annual reports with the government listing nearly all payments or other "transfers of value" to doctors and hospitals. The information will be posted in a public database.

For more details, see the 26 March print issue of Science.

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