Researchers tap online forums for subjects, insights

PatientsLikeMe is among several companies mining patient-generated online data, not just for insights to site visitor conditions, but also to establish revenue streams. Some provide aggregated and anonymized data for the use of drug developers; others, like PatientsLikeMe, are going a step further and providing analytics services.

Novartis ($NVS) used data from PatientsLikeMe profiles and discussion forums to recruit subjects for trials of Gilenya, an oral multiple sclerosis drug approved by the FDA in September. It had also used the data to determine that MS sufferers have difficulty managing their injectable drugs, reports InformationWeek.

Among PatientsLikeMe's other data clients is drugmaker UCB, as well as Johns Hopkins, the University of Wisconsin, Penn State and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Another online patient-data provider is NielsenHealth. Its BuzzMetrics services include data collection and analysis of people's perceptions of drug company products.

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