During #24DaysofGiving this December, we’re highlighting all the good your health data is doing within – and well beyond – the PatientsLikeMe website. Here’s another great example. Did you know the side effect data you report on your PatientsLikeMe treatment evaluations is helping pharmacy customers understand how the medications they take may affect them, too?
It started back in February this year when we kicked off a new collaboration with Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain. The idea was simple; by joining forces, we could help bring your experiences to many more people making treatment decisions. Now anyone researching a medication or filling a prescription on Walgreens.com can see a snapshot of how PatientsLikeMe members have been impacted by that medication, including side effects and their severity. There are currently about 6,000 medications at Walgreens pharmacies where others can learn from your experiences, and the data (de-identified!) is updated daily based on what you report on PatientsLikeMe.
This partnership marks the first time a company has displayed your real-world data on their website. Why did they do it? Because your data and experiences can help patients, wherever they are, understand more about the treatments they’re taking, and make more informed health decisions. Our partners understand and recognize that.
Here’s another reason (one you can probably relate to). To find side effect information for a treatment, you normally have to scour the Internet or read that sheet of paper that gets stapled to your prescription bag. (Does anyone really read that?) But information like that only represents a tiny fraction of the population, usually just a few hundred or at most a few thousand who took part in the clinical trial for the treatment. The thing is, you might be taking the treatment off-label. In fact, more than one in five outpatient prescriptions written in the U.S. are for off-label uses, and 75 percent of these uses have little or no scientific support. This means the treatment may affect people a little bit differently. So having real-world experiences like yours gives a broader picture for people trying, or deciding to try, that treatment.
The next time you record a treatment evaluation, know that you’re doing much more than you think. By sharing information about side effects, you’re making it easier for someone else to make a better decision for them. We’re truly better, together.
Share this post on Twitter and help spread #dataforgood during #24DaysofGiving.
 Radley DC, Finkelstein SN, Stafford RS. Off-label prescribing among office-based physicians. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(9):1021-1026. doi: 10.1001/archinte.166.9.1021.