It is important for patients to have accurate and reputable drug information resources at their disposal. Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) by pharmaceutical manufacturers through television, print ads, and the computer has become prevalent throughout the United States.1 There is mixed evidence regarding whether DTCA is beneficial for patients or leads to prescribing of potentially unnecessary medications.1 Nonbiased medical information is important for consumers to make informed decisions regarding their health care. You may receive questions from patients on the best online resources to search for drug information. Educate patients to search websites with web address that end in .gov (government sponsored site), .edu (produced by an education institution) and .org (organization).
Here are 4 free reputable drug information resources to educate your patients about:
This site is affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a great resource for parents. It includes topics such as news updates, vaccine recommendations, nutrition facts, and health information for different ages ranging from newborn through teenagers. Also, the site includes advice and treatment recommendations for various conditions such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and cough and cold.
This site is affiliated with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. It is a one-stop-shop for medication safety information, which is so important for patients. The resource includes articles, FDA updates, and how to report medication errors. The personalized medication updates is one of the best features, which allows patients to stay up-to-date with safety alerts on the drugs they take. Updates include drug safety ratings, drug interactions, recalls, and side effects.
National Institute on Aging
This is a government site from the National Institutes of Health. Consumers can search for valuable information on various topics including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, menopause, shingles, and cardiovascular health. Other topics include healthy eating, exercising, and hypothermia prevention. Patients can also search for information on participating in clinical trials. There are a plethora of great free resources that can be ordered or downloaded.
This is affiliated with the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition, which provides education to consumers regarding the safe use of products containing acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is contained in over 600 over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications. Consumer education is extremely important, as use of multiple acetaminophen-containing products can result in adverse effects including overdose. The website also includes a great interactive game where individuals have the option of choosing a character and testing their acetaminophen knowledge. The website encourages consumers to always read the OTC label before taking any product. There are multiple resources for safe use of acetaminophen in children including a dosage chart. Consumers and pharmacists can also order free acetaminophen educational toolkits. These resources are great to provide during community presentations or at your practice site.
Educating your patients on navigating consumer health resources will empower them to stay knowledgeable about their disease states and medications. The next time a patient requests a good resource to stay up-to-date with their health, you can provide them with these 4 easy to use websites.