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POLL SHOWS CONSUMERS TO BE WARY OF CONTROLLING HEALTH-CARE COSTS BY CUTTING TECHNOLOGY

 CHICAGO, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent poll shows just how difficult it will be to satisfy America's demand for the best in health care, while holding the line on the use of effective, but costly, new medical technology.
 In a national telephone survey of 1,006 American adults -- released this month in "IssueScan", a newsletter on health care trends published by Searle -- two-thirds (66 percent) said they think the newest treatments are most often prescribed, even if older ones work just as well. And 73 percent of those surveyed believe patients are subjected to too many tests.
 However, the survey also found that many Americans still want the best care available, no matter how expensive. When asked if they would support a public policy calling for the use of less-expensive treatments with a slightly smaller chance of improving a patient's health than another option, only a quarter of those polled (27 percent) said they would support such a requirement. In contrast, fully 60 percent said they would not favor such restrictions.
 Further, just under three-quarters of those polled (74 percent) think it is very important that their doctors send them to hospitals that offer the very latest medical equipment and procedures. "IssueScan" also asked respondents if high-cost medical equipment should be withheld if the patient would have a poor quality of life, would not live long anyway because of his or her disease, or would not live long due to his or her age. In each case, the respondents said costly treatment should not be denied (52 percent, 50 percent and 56 percent respectively).
 However, in what may represent a potential area for compromise by consumers, 68 percent of respondents said they would not be bothered -- or would only feel somewhat inconvenienced -- if they had to travel further for specific treatment.
 Health care ethics and economics experts interviewed for "IssueScan" agreed that advanced medical technology accounts for a substantial portion of the nation's escalating health care costs, but that the public will not willing accept limits on their access to potentially life-saving measures.
 "Half or more of the rise in [health care] costs over the last 10 to 20 years is due to new technology," commented William Schwartz, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.
 Joseph Newhouse, an economics professor at Harvard University, added, "At this point, the public is not prepared for rationing. But as the share of the gross domestic product spent on medical care goes up, the costs will become more painful. At some point, we will decide that we don't want to spend another percentage point of GDP."
 That view is shared by Daniel Callahan, director of New York's Hastings Center, a non-profit organization that analyzes ethical issues in medicine: "One of the things we've prided ourselves on in this country is the quality of medicinal technology we have. People are constantly fed material through the media telling them about all the wonderful things available. So I think (consumers) will be dragged kicking and screaming to rationing, but they will arrive there eventually."
 Meanwhile, as the complexity of the health care reform debate increases, and the difficulty of the choices becomes more apparent, Americans may be growing more confused and less optimistic. Among those polled by Bruskin Goldring Research on June 4-5, 43 percent said they are less confident about the future of American health care than they were before last year's presidential election. That is nearly double the number (22 percent) who felt less confident when "IssueScan" asked the same question in April.
 In addition to opinion polls and interviews with experts, "IssueScan" features the results of the Searle Health Care Issue Tracking Study, now in its sixth year of analyzing health-care press coverage. The newspaper is published three times a year by Searle, a research-based pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures and markets prescription drugs worldwide. Based in Skokie, Ill., Searle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Monsanto Company (NYSE: MTC). For more information on the publication, write to "IssueScan", Searle Public Affairs, 5200 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie, Ill. 60077.
 -0- 7/21/93
 /CONTACT: Pam Rasmussen of Searle, 708-470-6163/


CO: G.D. Searle & Co. ST: Illinois IN: HEA SU:

TM-MG -- NY097 -- 4190 07/21/93 17:49 EDT
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Date:Jul 21, 1993
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