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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2012

Handing Patients a Megaphone

A new website,, has recently joined the ranks of other sites providing free medical information about prescription drugs. What makes RxISK different from any other site is its independence from the pharmaceutical industry, the caliber of people behind the scenes, and its solicitation of self-reporting from patients and healthcare teams on side effects and treatment efficacy.

RxISK’s medical and research team is made up of physicians, academics and leading pharmaceutical industry critics from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. Most notably among these are David Healy, Nancy Olivieri, and Ralph Edwards from the World Health Organisation’s Uppsala Monitoring Centre.

RxISK pairs the current available data from the US Food and Drug Administration along with the side effect trends it tracks through its website and members’ reports. This information is made accessible in easy-to-read reports, visually compelling tag clouds, heat maps and interactive graphs.

In the near future RxISK will also provide a free service aiding individuals in identifying the like­lihood that they are experiencing a drug side effect.

The website does not run ads or accept sponsorship requests. It does not release personal information collected at the site or “enter into contracts or arrangements that could compromise the independence of the data we collect.” Instead, the funding model relies on selling “subscriptions to the anonymized, aggregated data we collect to anyone who wants it. This may include major players in healthcare, such as governments, health insurers, and pharmaceutical companies. We will also provide it, free of charge, to the regulatory authorities in your jurisdiction.”

The aim for the website is two-fold: to inform users about prescription drugs while also tracking critical data about drug side effects, “which is not currently being collected or reported,” in order to “improve drug safety and lower health-care costs.”