Tools: 25,000 U.S. physicians download free drug info software for iPhone

September 26, 2008

About 25,000 U.S. physicians have downloaded a free drug information software program that runs on Apple's popular iPhone, according to the California company that develops the software.

About 25,000 U.S. physicians have downloaded a free drug information software program that runs on Apple’s popular iPhone, according to the California company that develops the software.

Overall, the Epocrates RX software has been downloaded by more than 125,000 total users in its first month of availability, according to a statement from San Mateo, California-based Epocrates.

The majority of physicians who’ve downloaded the drug software say they use it to help them prescribe accurate drug doses, identify adverse reactions and check for potential drug interactions, according to the results of a survey of 303 U.S. physicians conducted by Epocrates.

David Sperling, MD, an internist in Long Beach, California, has been using Epocrates on hand-held devices for about 10 years and recently downloaded the software to his new iPhone. Sperling says he often uses the software to show patients high-resolution photos of pills in an attempt to identify what medications they’ve been taking when they aren’t certain.

“Definitely there’s a ‘wow’ factor when it comes to the iPhone,” especially among older patients who are impressed with the technology, he says.

More than 70 percent of physicians surveyed say the software’s availability on the iPhone was an important factor in their decision to download it, according to the company. More than 70 percent also report using Epocrates at least once per day.

Thousands of consumers have also downloaded Epocrates, the company says. Consumers primarily use the software to check for interactions between medications and become more informed about potential side effects, according to the results of a survey of 304 consumers who downloaded Epocrates.

Epocrates offers a scaled-down version of its drug information software for free in the hopes that users will like it so much that they feel compelled to purchase a version that’s packed with more features, a company spokeswoman says. For example, the “deluxe” version retails for $199 for a one-year subscription and also includes information about alternative medicine, laboratory tests, and ICD-9 codes.