Sometimes, great opportunities arise out of some of the worst events in your life. One day during the fall of 2009, my family experienced one of those terrible yet transformative events. I was at my office in San Diego that afternoon when I got a call from my wife Lisa. I picked up the phone and she simply said to me “Come home now”. When I heard those words, my keys were in my hands instantly and I was headed out the door.
When I got home, I found my wife lying in bed, face and neck swollen, struggling to breathe and panic-stricken. She had just taken a commonly provided medicine the day before and now was experiencing an “adverse event” because of it. I took her to the doctor and she was given steroids, which reduced the severity of her symptoms but seemed to make her more jittery and anxious. Despite the short term improvement after this initial treatment, the majority of her symptoms persisted for almost two more months, including vision problems, headaches, and throat swelling. After 15 visits to various doctors over that time including neurologists and ophthalmologists, nobody had any solutions for her. They just promised her that her problems would eventually go away with time. Fortunately, those problems did go away.
The symptoms that my wife experienced were not on the label for this drug or any literature that she received from the doctor who gave it to her. When I tried to find any information about these symptoms my wife was experiencing, I was shocked to find that there was no quality information on the internet available on her side effects outside of some random chat room messages and excerpts from lawsuit filings.
I had spent most of my professional life building information products that help solve healthcare professional clients’ problems for the previous company I co-founded, Sagient Research. This became another problem that I was determined to solve. The world needed a website that aggregated all of the available drug safety information in an easy-to-use and comprehensive database that could improve patient safety and reduce healthcare costs. In the beginning of 2010, Brian Overstreet and I started AdverseEvents based on this concept and were excited about all of its potential. Brian went on to run the company as he was stepping down as President/CEO from Sagient and I moved forward with Sagient to become its new CEO. Two and half years later, in May 2012, we sold Sagient Research to Informa Business Information, a leader in healthcare information and analytics.
After helping out with the transition of Sagient to the new owners over the last two years, I became free to work on new opportunities just this month. Without hesitation, I jumped at the chance to go back to the company I co-founded to help grow this business as much as I can during this critical time. The AEI team built by Brian and Jim Davis is brilliant and has done so much since I have been away. They have created the RxScore which helps Healthcare Decision Makers compare the safety of drugs by class or indication with a simple overall risk score derived from sophisticated and well-tested mathematics. They have created the RxSignal which literally predicts FDA drug label changes and safety alerts months before they happen. They have also unlocked the most recent and thus most valuable adverse events case report data from the FDA using FOIA requests and data mining technology to provide clients with up-to-date post-market safety insight.
My passion over the last 15 years at Sagient was to create and build insightful products that clients found to be intuitive and easy-to-use. I will bring that passion to AEI as its Chief Product Officer, with the goal of providing actionable information that our Healthcare Decision Maker clients can use to save their company costs and provide their patients with the best possible treatment outcome.
It’s amazing that my next career move and the company I co-founded all started when my wife got sick taking a commonly used drug. She is so happy that I’m involved in work that will hopefully fix the problem that she experienced. Not only did she suffer personally and lose time from work because of her adverse event experience, but her experience also cost the healthcare system unnecessary expenses by generating a series of expensive doctor visits over those two months. It has been estimated that there are $27B in annual healthcare costs from adverse events caused by drugs every year. We have a long way to go but I hope to make a serious dent in that number by providing AdverseEvents’ analytics and insight to the professionals who are in charge of reducing those costs.
To see how some of these valauble features can work for your company, try a 7- day trial of AdverseEvents Explorer.
Chief Product Officer