Iodine, a new online database of both prescription and non-prescription drug information, launched today. Users can look up a drug and read about its efficacy, side effects, warnings, and costs. Also included is a consumer-friendly version of the drug’s package insert. In addition, the site provides data from other consumers about their experiences with the drug.
It’s an ambitious project, not helped by Time Magazine‘s subhead “The Yelp of medicine is here.” You see, I don’t particularly trust Yelp comments. Too many people grinding too many axes, posting false comments to influence others positively or negatively, etc. And when it comes to health information, I’m quite the snob. It takes years of professional training for doctors to learn their profession. Crowd-sourced, anecdotal opinions about health, medicine, drugs, etc. are a potentially inaccurate, even dangerous source of information. How is such information vetted? Also of concern is the likelihood that Big Pharma will do everything it can to counter the negative and hype the positive.
In other words, I’m very skeptical about how well Iodine is going to work and how reliable its content will be. However, I’m impressed with the credentials of the people behind it, not the least of whom is CEO and co-founder Thomas Goetz, former executive editor of Wired. So I’ll withhold judgment for now and hope Iodine lives up to its promise of providing accurate, unbiased, easily understandable drug information to the general public.
Note: Don’t miss the Iodine blog. There are some interesting articles, and they’re indicative of the care and thought that has gone into Iodine. My hopes are rising.