Crowdsourced medication review site Iodine launches antidepressant study

By Jonah Comstock
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Thomas Goetz, IodineIodine, the crowdsourced medication review company run by former Wired editor Thomas Goetz and former Google engineer Matt Mohebbi, is launching a new study this month to look specifically at the effects of antidepressants.

The study, called Iodine Timeline, will guide anti-depressant users to give feedback for one month about their treatment by opting into short, regular survey questions by email. Participants who answer the questions about mood, appetite, sleep and weight gain, will, at the end of the 30 days, get access to the topline data findings from the survey.

“While there are millions of Americans taking antidepressants, few track their daily experiences," Goetz said in a statement. "With Timeline we hope to capture feedback from hundreds and thousands, so we can help create meaning out of the frustration they feel when trying to identify the best treatment option."

Iodine hopes the study results will provide guidance on things like when particular antidepressants can be expected to kick in, and the severity and frequency of side effects like weight gain or sexual disfunction.

Goetz believes anti-depressants are understudied considering the number of people who take them and how difficult it is to find the right medication. More than 30 million people in America take antidepressants, the company said in a statement, but the largest study conducted to-date included just 4,041 individuals.

"People battling depression sometimes take three or more medications over six months before landing on the best treatment for them. Iodine hopes to improve upon this trial-and-error by enabling people to learn about the experiences others have had,” Goetz said. “We already share our opinions about businesses, restaurants, movies and more – isn’t it time we leveraged the power of community to improve the way we make decisions about our health?”

Iodine launched last September in beta with an unspecified amount of seed funding from investors including MESA+ and SparkLabs Global Ventures. The company is building out its crowdsourced drug information tool, hoping to accrue a critical mass of users before settling on a business plan (which may or may not involve charging for the service).

At a presentation this past February, Goetz shared some early data insights from the project which showed that the four highest-grossing drugs didn't have significantly higher patient satisfaction scores than their generic counterparts.