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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 7, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 10
Center to Evaluate 'Real World' Risks and Benefits of Medical Treatments

By Tim Parsons
Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was selected to join a newly established network of 13 research centers organized to evaluate how medications and treatments perform in the real world.

As part of the new initiative known as Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness, or DEcIDE, the Hopkins center will begin working on a study to evaluate the effectiveness of a new treatment for diabetes, inhaled insulin.

The DEcIDE network was established by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as part of a $15 million program to improve health services and therapies under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act. The DEcIDE network is designed to produce rapid answers to targeted questions, with results that will be translated quickly into practice.

"Clinical trials do not always tell us what we need to know about a medication or treatment. For DEcIDE, we will look beyond the artificial setting of a clinical trial to see what has happened in actual practice, to real patients," said Albert Wu, director of the new Hopkins center and professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "With DEcIDE, we will be able to determine if a treatment is cost-effective or if it leads to better outcomes. We'll also determine if a medication is a better choice for a particular group of patients. The data will help us decide what are the best and the most effective treatments available."

The DEcIDE center at Johns Hopkins will be a collaborative effort between the schools of Public Health, Medicine and Nursing. It will bring together a wealth of clinical expertise and health services research. Studies will use de-identified medical records and other data available from private health insurers and Medicare. The Johns Hopkins DEcIDE center will have access to data for millions of patients, including 42 million Medicare beneficiaries, and information on billions of prescriptions.

Eric Bass, a professor in the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, will co-direct the center. "Through these centers, we should be able to synthesize current knowledge and generate new knowledge about the comparative effectiveness of different treatments and clinical practices so that doctors and policy-makers have access to up-to-date information," Bass said.


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