Consumer Reports Announces New Health Ratings Center; Hires Dr. John Santa, Former Medical Director at the Center for Evidence-Based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University

May 29, 2008, 01:00 ET from Consumer Reports

    YONKERS, N.Y., May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Consumer Reports
 announced the formation of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center and
 the addition of Dr. John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., to direct the new center.
 Consumer Reports seeks to add ratings for hospitals and other health-care
 providers to its ratings of health related products, treatment options,
 natural medicines, and drugs.
     "The new Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center will provide consumers
 with the trusted information and advice they need at a time when the cost,
 quality, and safety of health-care have become some of the top issues on
 Americans' minds. The center will apply the same scientific rigor and
 expertise to its evaluations of treatments, drugs, and providers that we
 use to do our comparative tests of cars and cameras. And like all our work,
 it'll be done in an environment free of ads and conflicts of interest with
 the consumer as our primary constituency," said Jim Guest, president of
 Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
     The first undertaking of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center is
 a new web tool, created in conjunction with the Dartmouth Atlas Project,
 that will allow consumers to compare treatment approaches among hospitals
 for nine serious chronic conditions. The tool, to be released May 29 at, ranks nearly 3,000 hospitals, revealing
 sharp contrasts in how much time people with serious chronic conditions
 spend in the hospital and average out-of-pocket costs.
     Dr. John Santa served as medical director for Health Projects at the
 Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University from
 2003 to 2006. There Dr. Santa helped direct the Drug Effectiveness Review
 Project, known as DERP, which develops evidence-based reviews that evaluate
 and compare prescription medications. The DERP drug reviews have been a
 cornerstone of the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs project, launched in
 December, 2004.
     "Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is a great example of how the Health
 Ratings Center will set itself apart in a crowded playing field. First, we
 choose and carefully vet unbiased sources of clinical data. Second, we know
 how to translate these data into meaningful, consumer-friendly comparisons
 that people can use to make important decisions about their health," said
     "Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs highlights Consumer Reports'
 commitment to independence, credibility and transparency, and to a ratings
 product that will be of real value to consumers," added Santa, noting that
 Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is among the first attempts in the U.S. to
 translate for consumers the detailed findings of a systematic review of
 scientific evidence. In addition to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs, which
 to date has rated drugs across twenty categories, provides ratings on a wide array of healthy
 living products such as sunscreens and gym equipment, thousands of natural
 medicines, and treatment options for more than 200 conditions and diseases.
     Consumers have come to trust Consumer Reports' ratings of thousands of
 products and services each year for the expertise and independence they
 represent. The Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center will produce similar
 ratings tables, selecting the best sources of research to rate health care
 services, drugs, institutional providers, and eventually physicians and
 other practitioners. The doctors and other experts at the Consumer Reports
 Health Ratings Center are free of compromising industry relationships and
 responsive to consumer input from surveys, focus groups, and community
     (C) Consumers Union 2008. The material above is intended for legitimate
 news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional
 purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert,
 independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair,
 just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to
 protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect.
 To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no
 outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of
 our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.

SOURCE Consumer Reports