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New UIC center to study drug choices, safety

The University of Illinois at Chicago has been named one of 10 new centers in the United States to study how consumers and clinicians make critical treatment decisions about therapeutic products and interventions.

UIC's new center is part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics, or CERTS program. It will design and test systems to optimize drug choice, monitoring and safety, said Bruce Lambert, UIC professor of pharmacy administration and director of the new center.

"The United States health care system suffers from ongoing problems of underuse, overuse and misuse of drugs, with unacceptably high rates of preventable errors, harmful side effects and bad patient health outcomes," Lambert said.

"We propose to improve these outcomes by improving systems for choosing the best drugs for each medical condition, by more carefully monitoring how drugs are used, by linking laboratory and pharmacy information systems, by scientifically testing alternative treatments for individual patients, and by using economic experts to better understand the costs and benefits of all of these activities."

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded $41.6 million over the next four years to create a new coordinating center and the 10 new research centers. The coordinating center will be housed at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. UIC will receive $4 million to conduct the research.

With the addition of the 10 new centers, the CERTS program now has 14. The previous four were part of a $9.2 million grant awarded in fiscal 2006.

The CERTS program was authorized by Congress in 1997 to examine the benefits, risks and cost-effectiveness of therapeutic products; educate patients, consumers, doctors, pharmacists and other clinical personnel; and improve quality of care, while reducing needless costs by increasing appropriate use of therapeutics and preventing adverse effects and their consequences.

Jerry Bauman, dean of the UIC College of Pharmacy, said the university's new center will place UIC in an "extremely prominent position nationwide in the area of outcomes research and research on the clinical use of drugs."

"By combining all of the research findings, the new improved systems for prescribing drugs and monitoring their effects should help Americans lead longer, healthier lives while reducing the chance that they will be hurt by medicines that are intended to help them," he said.

Other individuals and organizations assisting in the CERTS project are: Dr. Gordon Schiff, professor of medicine at Rush Medical College and director of clinical quality, research and improvement at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County; Robert Gibbons, director of the Center for Health Statistics and professor of biostatistics and psychiatry at UIC; Dr. William Galanter, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the UIC College of Medicine; Northwestern University; Advocate Health Care; VA Center for Medication Safety; the Chicago Patient Safety Forum; and the University of Washington.


Contact: Sam Hostettler
University of Illinois at Chicago

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