Consumer Reports Uses AHRQ Research in Drug Purchasing Recommendations
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs (Best Buy Drugs), a public education project of Consumers Union, uses findings from AHRQ's Effective Health Care (EHC) Program to help clinicians and patients determine which drugs and other medical treatments work best for certain health conditions.
According to Managing Editor Steve Findlay, Best Buy Drugs uses AHRQ products to develop its medical knowledge base. "We're constantly on the lookout for comparative effectiveness reviews (CERs). We've used three or four of them extensively," he notes.
The CERs, which are produced by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Centers and serve as hallmarks of the congressionally mandated EHC Program, draw on published studies to produce evidence-based comparisons of medications, devices, and other interventions. They also identify research gaps and recommend future studies to address those gaps.
AHRQ's Comparative Effectiveness of Management Strategies for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is an example of a CER used by the Consumer's Union project to assist clinicians and patients in making informed decisions about which drugs to prescribe and use. "I don't think it's overstating the case to say that we devour these reports. They are incredibly useful in helping our project translate and disseminate evidence-based research," says Findlay.
Best Buy Drugs contracts with teams of physicians and researchers who translate the technical reports into layman's terms. The information is finalized into three final consumer products: a full report, a three-page summary, and a booklet that can be downloaded at no charge (http://www.crbestbuydrugs.org).
The magnitude of the EHC program's impact is evidenced by the fact that the Consumers Union drug class reviews are downloaded at a rate of 110,000 per month. Over the course of the two-year project, over 1 million reports have been downloaded. Assisting patients and physicians in making informed decisions regarding prescription drug choices not only increases the consumer and physician knowledge base, but it also influences physician practices and treatment regimens and informs the science regarding health care prescription benefit formularies.
In addition to disseminating the consumer materials and reports via the Web site, Best Buy Drugs has an outreach program that links to existing groups with statewide reach and credibility throughout the medical community.