Some of the $1.1 billion in funding for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) provided by last year’s economic stimulus legislation will be used to support a major doctor education campaign on drugs and medical products and procedures. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) plans to contract this fall with a marketing or advertising company that can develop and launch an academic detailing program able to conduct 9000 face-to-face meetings with health professionals over the next three years. The $30 million detailing program will target nurses, formulary committees, pharmacy benefit managers, as well as physicians in both large and small group practices, to inform them about research comparing drugs, medical devices, tests, and ways to deliver health care.
The AHRQ program fits proposals from leading Congressional Democrats, including House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif), Senate Aging Committee chairman Herb Kohn (D-Wis) and Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill). They and others sponsored legislation last year to fund “independent drug education and outreach” similar to the AHRQ initiative. Kohl held a hearing in March 2008 on academic detailing that reflected his long-term interest in efforts to counter messages from pharmaceutical sales reps.