The FDA wants to regulate medical apps now too

epocOnlinePhoto ganked from the Epocrates website.

So now, in addition to the Feds wanting to regulate your Google Maps app, they want to regulate medical apps.  You know, the ones your doctor/PA/NP uses to ensure that they are prescribing the proper dosage for you of a given medication.  You know, the ones that often have dosing calculators built in so that there’s no possibility of error on the part of a rushed, harried provider in giving your child a medication.  Of course, they are not regulating the BOOKS that give the same information though can’t help with dosing calculators.

So let me get this straight:  Epocrates is a medical device, not an application, and must be regulated by the Feds.  The same feds who still haven’t approved artificial discs for spinal surgery though it’s been available in Europe since 2005.  The same Feds who approved Pradaxa which now has over 2000 medical harm lawsuits against it and did not disclose larger adverse effects than originally reported in the study which got it FDA approval.  The same FDA that had 63 recalls of medical devices alone in 2013 and another 30 medical device recalls so far this year.  And Epocrates is very reasonably priced as the basic version; I may eventually upgrade to the full version but currently it does the job just fine for my needs.  If the FDA gets involved, I doubt I will buy it at all due to the cost which I know will go up by at least double, and have fewer updates because the Feds will have to approve the upgrades before they can be released.

Yes, I’m SURE regulation of apps which have a market share because they WORK, and are easy to use, and receive frequent updates to ensure they have the LATEST prescribing information will go well if the Feds get involved.  I’m SURE they will continue to be the user friendly, up to date, accurate applications they currently are because, as we all know from previous experience, having the Feds get involved in anything medical means it works better.  Just look at the recalls if you don’t believe me.

It gets better though.  Ever heard of Fitbit?  It’s a nice little app, kind of expensive in my opinion, but it lets you track your weight, tracks calories burned, calories of the foods you input that you’ve eaten, and is supposed to help you keep to your fitness goals.  The FDA has already stated they are monitoring apps like this and would like to regulate them as well.  So that $129 it now costs will go up to $250 or more if they get involved.  Yay, regulation.  Because we’re all idiots and can’t take care of ourselves, we need the government to do it for us.

So what?  You say.  I don’t care, I don’t use those.  Well, any time the FDA gets involved it means the cost is going to go up.  Drastically.  Which means that, eventually, that cost is going to be passed on to the patient.  Because the consumer, the provider, already has a pretty thin profit margin.  And by profit, I mean what they get to live on after paying student loans, business expenses, malpractice insurance, DEA license fees, medical license maintenance fees, etc.  There’s not much left over after all that stuff is paid for.  The average family practice doctor who owns his own business makes about $140,000 per year.  And out of that must come all of those expenses.  An engineer makes about $125,000 and has lower malpractice, and most of those other fees are covered by his company.

Books are great.  I own a few books designed for prescribers.  Except that I have to buy new ones every year or two if I want the most current information — or be able to put sticky notes into my books everywhere every time the information changes.  The apps have the clear advantage of updating with the newest prescribing information on a regular basis.  I will admit in a collapse scenario however, books have the clear advantage.  They don’t depend on electricity and a functioning internet grid for their information. This is why I have backups, but I do love the ease and speed of the medical apps!



2 responses

  1. Very nice article. Remember, you don’t need an electrical grid to use an Android or Apple device. We have one of those nice portable solar chargers to take care of that. However, without internet, you won’t get the latest info – the good news is that no one else will either, so you’re gonna be pretty safe. 6-month old pharmaceutical information in a collapsed world is better than none at all, so unless the sun explodes and we don’t have solar power, everything should be OK. Oh, and if the sun DOES explode, how are we gonna charge our iPhones then? 😛

    Mr. TF

  2. Oh, I forgot to comment…. If the sun explodes and the sky suddenly gets a whole lot brighter, will our phones charge in a minute instead of several hours? How cool would that be?

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