Finding What Works [For Big Business] In Health Care

William Weldon, chairman and CEO of the global pharmaceutical device company Johnson and Johnson, recently wrote a piece for the Washington Post endorsing a “permanent comparative effectiveness institute.” The institute would “help” decide what treatments doctors should give to patients.

He does have his concerns though:

Many patient groups, physicians and developers of treatments fear that comparative effectiveness research will be used to restrict access to a broad range of treatments, some of which may be precisely what particular patients need. As the head of Johnson & Johnson…I have seen technology assessments make it more difficult for patients to access some lifesaving treatments.

This time, according to Weldon, things will be different:

But that doesn't have to be what happens here. By carefully allotting the stimulus funding, the federal government can lay the groundwork for how a permanent institute devoted to comparing treatments could work.

Despite the fact that every such comparative effectiveness body in the world exists for the purpose of rationing and denying care, this time things will be different.

Mr. Weldon seems quite the idealist. Or is it something else?

There are two kinds of laws that are “pro-business.” The first type allows businesses to compete freely, protecting their right to do what they wish with the money they earn. This forces all businesses to convince each individual customer to pay for the company’s product or service. The second type of pro-business law uses the force of government to support particular companies or industries.

The first type of law has brought us things like the iphone, the refrigerator, and the automobile. The second has brought us things like the bailout and the stimulus packages. Weldon is championing the second type of law, specifically a law from which his company stands to benefit. Would anyone be surprised to find Johnson and Johnson advocates on the comparative effectiveness board? Maybe even Weldon himself?

In a way it’s hard to blame Weldon. After all, why should GE’s Jeffery Immelt be the only CEO to advance the administration’s political agenda in a way to that sends billions of dollars to the company he runs?

Hap Tip: Larrey Anderson


William Weldon, chairman and CEO of the global pharmaceutical device company Johnson and Johnson, recently wrote a piece for the Washington Post endorsing a “permanent comparative effectiveness institute.” The institute would “help” decide what treatments doctors should give to patients.

He does have his concerns though:

Many patient groups, physicians and developers of treatments fear that comparative effectiveness research will be used to restrict access to a broad range of treatments, some of which may be precisely what particular patients need. As the head of Johnson & Johnson…I have seen technology assessments make it more difficult for patients to access some lifesaving treatments.

This time, according to Weldon, things will be different:

But that doesn't have to be what happens here. By carefully allotting the stimulus funding, the federal government can lay the groundwork for how a permanent institute devoted to comparing treatments could work.

Despite the fact that every such comparative effectiveness body in the world exists for the purpose of rationing and denying care, this time things will be different.

Mr. Weldon seems quite the idealist. Or is it something else?

There are two kinds of laws that are “pro-business.” The first type allows businesses to compete freely, protecting their right to do what they wish with the money they earn. This forces all businesses to convince each individual customer to pay for the company’s product or service. The second type of pro-business law uses the force of government to support particular companies or industries.

The first type of law has brought us things like the iphone, the refrigerator, and the automobile. The second has brought us things like the bailout and the stimulus packages. Weldon is championing the second type of law, specifically a law from which his company stands to benefit. Would anyone be surprised to find Johnson and Johnson advocates on the comparative effectiveness board? Maybe even Weldon himself?

In a way it’s hard to blame Weldon. After all, why should GE’s Jeffery Immelt be the only CEO to advance the administration’s political agenda in a way to that sends billions of dollars to the company he runs?

Hap Tip: Larrey Anderson