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Commentary: Knowledge is not always power

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 23 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4217
  1. Nicholas Mays, professor of health policy
  1. 1Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH
  1. Nicholas.Mays{at}

    Tunis and Pearson describe the objections raised by critics to the inclusion of comparative effectiveness research as part of President Obama’s health reforms and the concessions made so that the Patient-Centred Outcomes Research Institute could be included in the final legislation.1 Despite (possibly because of) the compromises made, the authors believe that the new institute “will prove to be enduring and highly influential.” Their belief seems to rest on the following frail foundations:

    • The institute is outside government and has a wide range of governing stakeholders including drug companies, private health plans, and medical professional bodies

    • Its research priorities will be based on what patients, clinicians, …

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