Hanover, NH — Ok, maybe not into a bar. But, it looks like they’ve been working together to crack the code on making prescription drug information more useful to consumers.
The project started years ago at Dartmouth Medical School. It was fueled by a frustration with direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. Or, more specifically, with what people take away from that advertising. The faculty’s patients were attracted to the promises of pharma ads – like making it easier to fall asleep or easing depression – but the “huge laundry lists of side effects” and other fine print that followed overwhelmed any deeper comprehension.
Worse, the way the fine print of pharma works, even people who read all the details were more likely to be exposed to minor side effects than to the true effectiveness of the drug.
So, they set out to rethink fair balance – simplifying the content and delivering detailed benefits with more stratified risks.
Their goal was to make it as easy to understand the health impact of drug as it is to understand the diet impact of a bag of potato chips.
Dr. Woloshin and Dr. Schwartz took the results of two randomized trials on how well drug fact boxes worked on several hundred people to the FDA. The studies indicated that most people presented with comparative risk and benefit information were able to identify the more effective of two drugs. The results held for random samples as well as for special populations, like people with less than a high-school-level education.
The Department of Health and Human Services, FDA, and others are still considering the value of the boxes, but we love how Dartmouth’s design-thinking makes information useful, not just available. It reminds us of that brilliant redesign of medical test results that Wired commissioned. Wait, of course it does – the Dartmouth team was behind that big rethink, too!
Posted by: Leigh Householder