Sermo's 'Yelp for drugs' platform chalks up 665K doctor reviews in just 1 year

Doctors' opinions of drugs are beefing up the Sermo drug rating system with thousands of reviews coming in weekly. (Getty/AndreyPopov)

Sermo’s drug-rating system—by doctors for doctors—is soaring. A little less than a year after its launch, the Yelp-like platform now has 655,000 ratings on more than 4,000 medications, CEO Peter Kirk tells us.

More than half those drugs have at least 100 reviews—and 18 of them have more than 1,000.

For pharma companies, the database has come to serve as real-time feedback on physicans’ experiences with their particular drugs. It’s also a way to evaluate brand equity, check reactions to promo and educational messaging, and get competitive intelligence.

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The system isn't meant as a pharma tool, Kirk said, but drugmakers can certainly glean constructive info from it.

“Sermo should not be thought of as a toy for pharma, right? It is really for doctors and to democratize medical knowledge and how medicine works in the real world,” Kirk said. "That being said, there are a lot of potential valued insights for pharma ... where the doctors are engaging with each other peer to peer. That could be from joining a conversation to trying to understand physician perceptions and experiences and what they’re saying about different therapies and issues.”

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In its inaugural year, the private and anonymous drug ratings database has been used by 70,000 doctors, whether they're posting or reading reviews or both. Sermo’s own research found that half of doctors changed their perceptions or opinions about a drug after reading the ratings. Eighty-three percent said they believe the ratings will help improve outcomes and 74% said they'll use the ratings again when doing research for treatments.

One of the things that surprised Sermo in the first year is how much time and effort physicians are willing to put in to share their opinions, Kirk said.

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Next up for the system is working on placement into electronic health records systems.

“We’re in early talks about getting drug ratings onto EMR systems, and we hope to do that by the end of the year so doctors would have access to them at point of care in the exam room,” Kirk said.