Startups ease access to online data on medical product side effects

The FDA has digested huge amounts of data on the hazardous effects of medical products for decades, and some entrepreneurs have set out to turn a profit from the information. Two recently launched startups aim to make FDA records easily searchable for healthcare professionals and individuals, feeding cravings for health information on the web, The Wall Street Journal reported.

AdverseEvents (a name that leaves little doubt what business the company is in) offers free online searches on bad drug reactions for thousands of products, while a separate group called Clarimed provides a similar service for searching adverse events related to medical devices, according to the article. Take notice drug and device makers: It's become increasingly easy for anyone with a web connection to find out about the disastrous results of using certain medical products.

"We think it's important for this information to be framed within context and to be properly evaluated," Kate Connors, a PhRMA spokeswoman, told the WSJ on behalf of the pharma industry group. She added that people should go to the FDA for information about adverse events.

Yet patients could find details on adverse events related to their prescription drugs well before the two startups rolled out their services, even without having to file public records requests with the FDA. For instance, Quintiles' online service now called MediGuard went live in 2007 and lets patients find facts about the safety risks of their meds and hazardous drug interactions. It's well known that the Internet is often one of the first places people turn for health information, and MediGuard has been able to attract 2.5 million registered users.

Given the rush to the web venue for health information, drug companies are keeping a close eye on their online profiles and appear to have plenty of incentives to do so.

- check out the WSJ article

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