The launch of a new medication can be a very exciting event. It can renew hope for a better future and provide proof of the billions spent on research every year. It can also stimulate a lot of interesting conversation.
Or not. We’ve learned from you that not every new medication warrants your attention and discussion. What’s fascinating is learning which ones do and which ones don’t, and why. We saw a recent example of this on PatientsLikeMe:
(In this chart, the medications are called “A” and “B” so, as we continue to observe and research dialogue about these medications, we will not have influenced you in any way.)
This chart shows the volume of conversation about two new medications that were approved by the FDA to treat the same disease. We studied the time immediately following FDA approval of each new medication to see whether or not patients were talking about them. Since the drugs were approved at different points in time, we simply shifted them onto a single timeline for head-to-head comparison.
What a difference! In the first month following FDA approval, you discussed Drug A 67 times but Drug B only 25 times. Three months later, the difference grew to 402 discussions about Drug A to only 42 discussions about Drug B.
What caused this difference, and why is it so pronounced? Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way:
- There was no major event or change on PatientsLikeMe during this time.
- The number of patients on PatientsLikeMe was approximately the same when both new medications were approved.
- PatientsLikeMe was not influencing conversation on either new medication.
- Neither medication was available for use before month 3, long after the two lines in the chart had separated.
- Similarly, the companies that developed these new medications did not begin their marketing efforts before month 3.
What this leaves is the new medications themselves. There must be something different between Drug A and Drug B – could be side effects, could be efficacy, could be something else entirely – that drove the volume of conversation about Drug A only. PatientsLikeMe will study this in greater detail to understand and illuminate the factors behind this phenomenon.
Why? Because researchers need to know what you value in new medications. By listening to your unmet needs, researchers can develop solutions to unsolved problems caused by your disease. Wouldn’t that get you talking?
This is just another example among many of how you are selflessly giving back and helping advance medicine on PatientsLikeMe.