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    Internet drug ratings: AskAPatient.com & WebMD correlate well but Drugs.com does not

    Eugen G Tarnow  July 21 2015 02:42:33 PM
    By Eugen Tarnow, Ph.D.
    Avalon Business Systems, Inc.
    http://AvalonAnalytics.com

    Internet drug ratings can help consumers (ever tried reading an FDA approved drug insert?).

    Here I compare three internet drug rating sites: AskAPatient.com, Drugs.com and WebMD.com.  For the reasons below, I recommend AskAPatient.com as well as WebMD.com


    AskAPatient.com and WebMD.com (satisfaction rating) rates on a scale of 1-5 and Drugs.com on a scale of 1-10 so the latter ratings were scaled appropriately to enable the comparison.  The ratings for ten drugs (the "frequently rated drugs" on AskAPatient.com as of 7/22/15) are shown in Fig. 1.


    Image:Internet drug ratings: AskAPatient.com & WebMD correlate well but Drugs.com does not
    Fig. 1.  Ratings for 10 drugs.


    The results are interesting.   Ratings on AskAPatient.com and WebMD.com are more negative than on Drugs.com (average rating is 2.6 and 2.8 compared to 3.8).  They are also more varied than on Drugs.com.  On AskAPatient.com the ratings vary between 1.6-3.4, on WebMD between 2.0-3.5 and on Drugs.com ratings vary between 3.4 and 4.2.
     (the standard deviation for AskAPatient.com is 0.64, for WebMD it is 0.54, while for Drugs.com it is a much smaller 0.29).

    AskAPatient.com and WebMD largely agree on their ratings (correlation is 92%) while AskAPatient.com and Drugs.com do not correlate (correlation is only 23%), see Fig. 2
    .

    Ironically, Google and Bing and DuckDuckGo all feature drugs.com high up on drug related search results.

    Image:Internet drug ratings: AskAPatient.com & WebMD correlate well but Drugs.com does not
    Fig. 2.  Ratings for 10 drugs show little agreement between AskAPatient.com and Drugs.com


    The ratings I compared are shown in Table 1.
    AskAPatient.com Drugs.com WebMD.com
    Levaquin
    1.7
    3.4
    2.0
    Lexapro
    3.2
    4.2
    3.5
    Cymbalta
    2.8
    3.6
    3.0
    Effexor
    3.1
    3.9
    3.2
    Topamax
    3
    3.7
    3.3
    Lamictal
    3.4
    4.2
    3.5
    Zyrtec
    2.1
    4.0
    2.8
    Cipro
    1.6
    3.9
    2.1
    Flagyl
    2.5
    3.7
    2.6
    Depo-Provera
    2.1
    3.7
    2.4













    Table 1.  Ratings for 10 drugs.


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