March 26, 2009

In Case You’ve Been Asleep, Or Something [8:23 am]

Apparently, this is still news, at least to the New York Times’ readership: Online Age Quiz Is a Window for Drug Makers (pdf)

According to RealAge, more than 27 million people have taken the test, which asks 150 or so questions about lifestyle and family history to assign a “biological age,” how young or old your habits make you. Then, RealAge makes recommendations on how to get “younger,” like taking multivitamins, eating breakfast and flossing your teeth. Nine million of those people have signed up to become RealAge members.

But while RealAge promotes better living through nonmedical solutions, the site makes its money by selling better living through drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease — and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors.

While few people would fill out a detailed questionnaire about their health and hand it over to a drug company looking for suggestions for new medications, that is essentially what RealAge is doing.

See also Your Online Clicks Have Value, for Someone Who Has Something to Sell (pdf) — although, not as much as they used to, I would say

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