CMS Allows Broader Access to Taxpayer-Funded Databases, Helping Researchers Address Health Care Challenges

For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrea Hofelich,, 202-827-2078

(Washington, DC, September 10, 2015)—The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) today praised the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for broadening access to certain taxpayer-funded health care databases, a first step toward helping researchers address challenging health questions and improve health care delivery systems.

The announcement, posted today on the CMS Research Data Assistance Center website, allows “innovators and entrepreneurs”—regardless of their affiliation or funding—to analyze and utilize datasets maintained by the federal agency. This includes using the data for a research study or to create analyses related to their business needs, such as creating care management or predictive modeling tools. Prior to the announcement, researchers funded by commercial entities, including the biopharmaceutical industry, had been denied access to publicly funded CMS data.

“This is an important development for patients,” said NPC President Dan Leonard. “Health data held by federal and state agencies could be used by a wide variety of stakeholders to improve health outcomes, improve care delivery, and lower costs. Opening up the data to all researchers seeking to improve health can help to spur health care innovations, and we hope that other public agencies will follow CMS’ lead.”

According to the announcement, innovators and entrepreneurs will be able to access certain CMS data only in the Virtual Research Data Center, following the approval of the research protocol under the existing research request process and after an additional review of the product, tool and analyses that will be created using the data. This approach allows for timely and efficient access to data while ensuring privacy protections.

NPC pointed out that data access can benefit multiple stakeholders because the data can be used to make health care delivery more effective and efficient. For example, a health system may use publicly funded data to identify patients at risk for readmission and improve care management. Multi-specialty provider groups may identify more effective ways to manage patients in accountable care organizations. A biopharmaceutical company can identify factors associated with medication treatment adherence. A health plan can predict treatment response among different patient populations. Data-driven solutions and health care delivery could benefit all stakeholders, and most important, the care provided to patients.

NPC has conducted extensive research to promote the generation and use of high-quality evidence to inform decisions through research methods, real-world evidence and evidence evaluation.

About the National Pharmaceutical Council
The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation’s major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination, and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit and follow NPC on Twitter @npcnow.