NPC Comments on CMS’ Announcement to Allow Broader Access to Publicly Funded Databases

(Washington, DC, June 2, 2015)—The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) today commented on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) announcement to allow “innovators and entrepreneurs”—regardless of their affiliation and funding—to analyze and utilize certain datasets maintained by the federal agency.

“Access to research-quality data in publicly funded databases could help researchers tackle a host of health care questions that cannot be addressed through other information sources,” said NPC President Dan Leonard. “This is a positive development, because the real-world information that could be gleaned from publicly funded data could benefit patient and consumer health.”

Today’s announcement marks a shift in CMS’ long-standing policy that prohibits the sharing of certain federal program data with entities that have a “commercial purpose.” NPC has noted that it is difficult to distinguish which types of research have commercial interests because data can inform much more than just a product or tool. In addition, the quality and efficiency of all physician groups, health plans, hospital systems and suppliers can be enhanced by using data.  

Last year, CMS invited comments on whether its current ban on access to Part D Drug Event Data for commercial purposes should be revised. NPC and the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) submitted comments outlining the benefits for patients and the health care system that could be realized from allowing broader access to data.

“In our rapidly evolving health care sector, the way in which data are being used has changed dramatically. Patient-level information is needed to achieve the very care transformation CMS seeks,” wrote NPC and HLC. “Within organizations currently excluded, there is deep scientific and analytic expertise which enables a broader understanding and knowledge of public health issues across the entire healthcare ecosystem. Ultimately, any standard that essentially bars access to important data is detrimental to the larger goals of our health care system and our common goals for the evolution of that system.”

NPC, which has conducted extensive research in the areas of research methods, real-world evidence and evidence evaluation, looks forward to reviewing CMS’ full proposal, noted Mr. Leonard.

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.

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