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New website tells you what to take when you’re sick

1/5/2015

Iodine.com, an online health information database designed to give users access to more information about medications and other healthcare choices, has launched a new web app dedicated to treatments for the cold and flu season.

“With the variety of symptoms you get, and the marketing hype of name brand drugs, it can be tough to find the best medicine for your cold or flu symptoms,” said Lifehacker.com. “Iodine’s new Cold-and-Flu feature tells you exactly what to buy based on the symptoms you have.”

In a statement, the company said that the new site allows people to look through over 300 different cold and flu medications to find and compare those that treat their own specific set of symptoms. They call it the first app of its kind dedicated to influenza and the common cold.

Once you get to the web app, you just enter your symptoms, and the site will generate a list of medicines that will help you based on their active ingredients. It lists the type of drugs that can treat the cold and flu, as well as information about dosages and potential health risks, and also lists store brands that are comparable to well-known products.

“Choosing between cold medicines is confusing,” the company explained, noting that the hundreds of products sold at drugstores “combine just four types of ingredients: decongestants, pain and fever reducers, cough suppressants, and expectorants (mucus thinners).”

Each different name brand has its own version of nearly every combination, as well as different dosage forms (such as tablets or liquids) and dosage strengths. “Deciphering different products and ingredients is confusing to anyone without medical training,” Iodine officials added.

The website also said that customers tend to overpay for brand name medications, spending an additional $44 billion on over-the-counter medications and other health items. Pharmacists, on the other hand, are reportedly 90 percent more likely to buy money-saving generic drugs.

“People are taking more medicine than they need: Many choose combination products that have more ingredients than they need, putting them at higher risk for side effects, drug interactions, and overdoses,” the company explained, adding that people can select symptoms to see a short list of ingredients that treat them, as well as a product comparison. Then can they print or email the list to themselves and take it with them the next time they do to the drugstore.

“We built our cold and flu app because we think consumers are overwhelmed by options and marketing in the cold and flu aisle,” said Dr. Amanda Angelotti, director of product at the San Francisco-based company that has been called “the Yelp of medicine” by Time.

“They’re overspending on brand names and often taking combination products with more ingredients than they really need,” Dr. Angelotti added. “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.”


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