Friday, July 30, 2010

Is Saridon safe? lack of online information can cast product doubts

Writing for a Cebu-based publication gives me insight on the various activities happening in the city and region as I get to receive invites and "fyi" type of materials through e-mail, text message, and phone calls. Usually I ignore this however the Saridon case caught my interest.

Let me start by saying I don't know what Saridon is and therefore have to rely on search engines to get more information. What disappointed me though is when I search for more information, there's hardly any coming from the product maker itself appearing on page one.

Found a commercial that was done a few years ago and a billboard creation blitz that got television exposure. There were 3 Facebook pages about Saridon but hardly do they provide any information and unclear if they are corporate pages or not.

It turns out that Saridon is a pain killer that is popular in Visayas and Mindanao due to its affordable price. There are warnings about the product from various newspaper columnists saying that Saridon is unsafe citing its previous formula containing phenacetin and its new formulation has propyphenazone that can have negative side-effects to those who take it.

As the product is only circulated in specific parts of the country, this further fuels the doubt as it might imply testing on specific audience only.

Bayer eventually reacted and contacted columnists where the explanation was published by some. However, I think that won't be enough to curb doubts that started circulating and even reached those who are unaware of the product to begin with.

The Saridon case in my opinion proves that product owners can't afford not having a website where sufficient information is provided. When search, they should appear on the page one of search engine results.

This is most useful if in case news about the reliability of their products start circulating offline. The only choice for most people is to look for additional information and get further clarification. It doesn't help if no sufficient information about it is found online from its own makers and distributors.

Perhaps the Department of Health should start requiring website presence to all medicines given or issued with BFAD permit (and to those with no approved therapeutic claims) to properly inform the consumer and have a contact point if in case there will be questions or complaints (pointing back to the DOH website).

For example, I am curious about this case on drug-induced hepatitis with hepatic granuloma due to saridon if it refers to the same Saridon formulation that is circulating in the market today. (saw this from Benj blog post about Saridon)

For those who are familiar with medicines, perhaps this is also a good opportunity to create a site or blog that aims to educate the consumer further.