How Should Therapeutic Decisions about Expensive Drugs Be Made in Imperfect Environments?

Leonard Fleck photoAn ethics case by Center Professor Dr. Leonard Fleck and co-author Marion Danis, MD, was published in the February 2017 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics. Their commentary is titled “How Should Therapeutic Decisions about Expensive Drugs Be Made in Imperfect Environments?”

Clinicians must inevitably make therapeutic decisions under nonideal conditions. They practice in circumstances that involve incomplete evidence. They deliver care in health care systems that are complex and poorly coordinated. Each of the patients that they take care of is unique while research offers evidence regarding relatively homogeneous populations of patients. Under these circumstances, many parties—medical scientists, reviewing agencies, insurers, and accountable care organizations—can and should contribute to optimizing the development, approval, funding, and prescription of therapies—particularly expensive and marginally beneficial therapies. In aggregate, they should aspire to achieve a pattern of fair, cost-effective therapeutic decisions to ensure a sustainable health care system. Here we offer some suggestions regarding decisions that physicians might pursue to facilitate fair and cost-effective patient care.

Visit the AMA Journal of Ethics website to read the full article.