Health-info site HealthCentral Network pulls in $50M

(UPDATED: IAC put out a release this morning — see below.)The HealthCentral Network, an Arlington, Va., collection of health-information sites, raised roughly $50 million, paidContent reports. Investors included some big names, include Barry Diller’s online media and commerce conglomerate IAC, Sequoia Capital, Carlyle Group and Polaris Venture Partners.

HealthCentral runs about 30 health-related Web sites, ranging from general-info offerings like HealthCentral.com to disease-specific sites such as OurAlzheimers.com and MultipleSclerosisCentral.com. (The company also owns the DrKoop.com name, although that site is no longer affiliated with the former Surgeon General.) The sites are all essentially clones of one another in style and appearance, and generally offer a grab-bag of general or disease-specific information and some seemingly sparsely attended forums.

HealthCentral doesn’t seem to produce much of its own content, either; it lists five different sources, including Harvard Health Publications, HealthDay, and Thomson, at the bottom of its sites. In other words, it’s difficult to see exactly what makes the business worth the sums investors are pouring into it, as you can easily find much the same stuff on a half-dozen other sites.

In short, the whole HealthCentral Network looks a lot like a crass money-grab — a minimal deployment of resources designed to catch, if not retain, the maximum number of eyeballs. Which means that this latest investment is simply the latest in a flood of hot money that’s been pouring into health and so-called Health 2.0 sites over the past year or so, a trend that’s looking more and more like an unsustainable bubble with every transaction.

We’ve covered several related launches such as Microsoft’s HealthVault, Kosmix RightHealth, HealthCare.com, Healthline, and a roundup of other startups here. Valleywag has more on HealthCentral in particular.

UPDATE: IAC issued a release on its investment this morning, which doesn’t move the ball forward in any meaningful way. But at least the deal is confirmed.