Like consumers who scroll Amazon reviews, doctors looking for opinions on prescription drugs have a new place to turn. The Drug Ratings online database, launched last week by physician social network Sermo, allows doctors to tap into peer reviews, ratings and discussions about drugs.
The database—open to Sermo’s 650,000 members worldwide—was in beta until recently but already includes more than 1,000 drugs and more than 250,000 ratings. Drugs are rated anonymously across five different factors: efficacy, accessibility, adherence, safety and tolerance.
While pharma companies won’t be allowed to participate in the rating system, of course, Sermo will allow them access to the aggregate data. A Sermo spokeswoman further clarified via email that Sermo “will never share what any specific doctor has said about a drug, or anything else. Sermo exists to offer doctors a place to anonymously and collectively drive medicine forward, and Drug Ratings adheres to the same privacy standards as everything else on the Sermo social network.”
Sermo will not serve banners or any other advertising on the Drug Rating tool, she said.
Neurologist Heidi Moawad, M.D., was one of the beta testers of Sermo’s Drug Rating tool and found it helpful not only to look at other doctors’ ratings but also in providing an outlet for sharing.
“Doctors care a lot about sharing information. I know myself if I’ve had a negative side effects with a drug I want to share it with other doctors. You want people to have the most information possible when prescribing medicine,” she said.
She likened the Drug Ratings tool to similar exchanges that happen in person in the hallway of a hospital or in a physician’s office corridor, where one doctor asks another for their opinions and experiences with a particular drug.
As for the pharma review of aggregate data, Moawad said she hopes companies might use the information to improve drugs, for instance, when there are many similar complaints about the same side effect.