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Iodine launches cold and flu app to help consumers find best OTC options for their symptoms

Monday, December 22, 2014

San Francisco-based Iodine, developer of health information web site Iodine.com, has launched a new web app for cold and flu season.

The new, first of its kind app, at www.iodine.com/cold-and-flu, helps people sift through the 300+ options in the cold and flu aisle to find and compare medications that treat their own combination of symptoms. 

Iodine was founded in San Francisco in 2013 by Thomas Goetz, former executive editor of WIRED. The company launched Iodine.com in 2014, combining clinical research with real life experience to create better information that can yield new insights. According to the company web site, the combination can reduce fear and uncertainty about health, enhance the dialogue between people and their care providers and create valuable opportunities for better care.

Iodine said it built the cold and flu app because choosing between cold medicines is confusing: Drugstores offer over 300 cold and flu products that combine just four types of ingredients: decongestants, pain and fever reducers, cough suppressants, and expectorants. Each brand name has its own version of almost every combination, plus various dosage forms (such as liquid or tablets) and dosage strengths. Deciphering different products and ingredients is confusing to anyone without medical training.

In addition, consumers spend an extra $44 billion a year on brand-name products in drugstores, including over-the-counter medications and other health items, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. And people are taking more medicine than they need: Many choose combination products that have more ingredients than necessary, putting them at higher risk for side effects, drug interactions and overdoses.

With the app, people can select cold and flu symptoms to see a short list of ingredients that treat them, plus a side-by-side comparison of products that contain those ingredients. Then they can print, text or email the list to themselves to take to the store.

“We built our cold and flu app because we think consumers are overwhelmed by options and marketing in the cold and flu aisle,” said Amanda Angelotti, M.D., director of product at Iodine. “They’re overspending on brand names and often taking combination products with more ingredients than they really need. Iodine’s cold and flu app helps you narrow down your options to products that treat the symptoms you actually have, and shows you store brands and generics that cost less but work just as well.”

Iodine is dedicated to giving individuals better, more actionable information about their healthcare choices, starting with medications. The company’s online interactive tools enable individuals to drill into massive amounts of data from clinical research and real life experience to gain deeper insights into their choices about medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. The company is staffed by a team of data scientists, designers and healthcare experts, and has been called “the Yelp of medicine” by TIME.


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