I’ve done it, and you probably have too. My doctor prescribes a medication. I run home and do a quick Google search.
The Web site that comes up first is often Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia written and edited by its users. But new research raises questions about the drug information on Wikipedia.
According to a recent study, Wikipedia omits important info about drugs. The research was published in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.
Researchers compared drug info on Wikipedia and Medscape Drug Reference (MDR), which is professionally edited and written. Wikipedia answered fewer questions, provided poor information on drug dose, and left out important facts. Example: Wikipedia failed to state that the drug Arthrotec can cause a pregnant woman to miscarry.
While MDR did better than Wikipedia most of the time, it had its own problems. In a few cases, it had factual errors. The researchers didn’t find any factual errors in the Wikipedia info they looked at it.
What does this mean for you and your family? Neither Wikipedia nor MDR should be your primary source for drug info. Talk to your health care provider and pharmacist first. For over-the-counter drugs, read the package info. For prescriptions, follow the instructions exactly. And read those annoying package inserts with the tiny, tiny type. If you have questions or concerns, ask your health care provider or pharmacist about them. Also, check out the drug info on MedlinePlus, the respected Web site of the National Library of Medicine.
If you are pregnant, take special care since some medications can harm your baby. For more information, read the March of Dime article about drugs during pregnancy.
How do you get info on drugs? What works for you? Tell us about it.