[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN8vU-UiElw&fs=1&hl=en_US](Note: see the last 5 minutes of this video for information about MedWatcher.) Those prescription drug ads on TV won’t be the only things listing off potential side effects anymore. Now, there’s an app that’ll bring them straight to your phone!
The University of North Carolina teamed up with Harvard Medical School and the Children’s Hospital in Boston to create MedWatcher, a new iPhone app that lets patients and doctors send and receive information on potential drug side effects and interactions. The idea is to use the power of crowd-sourcing to flag adverse events and expedite the deliverance of information to drug producers and doctors. This allows app users to be notified quickly when trends indicate warning signs. It also creates a forum where users can discuss their side effects or concerns with other people using the same prescriptions.
While the interaction side of the app is its strength, it also acts as a simple information dissemination tool. Users just input a list of their prescriptions and are connected immediately with the latest FDA information about those drugs.
As with all of these crowd-sourcing tools, it’ll be interesting to see how the developers deal with all the noise that gets reported (maybe there was a reason the FDA made it difficult to report adverse events). While the developers point out that consumer’s unfamiliarity with common interactions could actually help flag important and unforeseen associations, they make no mention of how they’ll sort out the seeds from the chaff.