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AHRQ expands program to improve safe and effective use of medical products

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has provided $4.8 million in additional funding for the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) program, which the Agency administers in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration. The funding for three new centers, which covers a 3-year period, brings AHRQ's investment in CERTs to date to approximately $12.9 million.

The CERTs program will boost the positive impact on patient care of medical products—drugs, biologics, and medical devices, according to AHRQ Director John M. Eisenberg, M.D., who announced the awards. The new centers join four centers funded in September 1999 when AHRQ launched the CERTs program.

The goal of the program is to improve the quality of health care and reduce costs by increasing awareness of the benefits and risks of new uses or combinations of medical products and by improving the effectiveness of existing ones. The newest centers are:

  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CERT. Principal investigator Richard Platt, M.D. Total projected funding $2,572,315. Project period 9/1/00-8/31/03. This center will develop and determine the utility of large databases for studying the effectiveness and safety of antibiotic use in children, drugs for preventing congestive heart failure, and outcomes from the use of hypoglycemics in patients with diabetes. It will bring together nine members of the HMO Network and their researchers, as well as investigators from medical schools, schools of public health, and pharmacy schools.
  • University of Pennsylvania CERT. Principal investigator Brian L. Strom, M.D. Total projected funding $1,391,164. Project period 9/1/00-8/31/03. This center will conduct research on ways to reduce resistance to antimicrobial drugs and other research, such as drug utilization and subsequent intervention studies, medication safety studies, efficacy and effectiveness investigations, and studies on research methodology.
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham CERT. Principal investigator Kenneth Saag, M.D. Total projected funding $804,623. Project period 7/1/00-6/30/03. This center will study therapeutics used for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and other musculoskeletal diseases (MSD). The center will disseminate new knowledge about MSD therapeutics, including their cost-effectiveness and effects on health-related quality of life and ways to minimize the adverse effects of these therapeutics.

Other AHRQ-supported CERTs are located at Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of North Carolina, and Vanderbilt University.

Select for more information on the CERTs program on the CERTs Web site at

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