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Caveat emptor: Erroneous safety information about opioids in online drug-information compendia

Sonia R. Talwar, PharmD, Amarita S. Randhawa, PharmD, Erica H. Dankiewicz, PharmD, Nancy T. Crudele, PharmD, J. David Haddox, DDS, MD

Abstract


Background: Healthcare professionals and consumers refer to online drug-information compendia (eg, Epocrates and WebMD) to learn about prescription medications, including opioid analgesics. With the significant risks associated with opioids, including abuse, misuse, and addiction, any of which can result in life-threatening overdose, it is important for those seeking information from online compendia to have access to current, accurate, and complete drug information to help support clinical treatment decisions. Although compendia are informative, readily available, and user friendly, studies have shown that they may contain errors.

Objective: To review and identify misinformation in drug summaries of online drug-information compendia for selected opioid analgesic products and submit content corrections to the respective editors.

Methods: Between 2011 and 2013, drug summaries for Purdue's prescription opioid analgesic products from seven leading online drug-information compendia were systematically reviewed, and the requests for corrections were retrospectively categorized and classified. At least 2 months following requests, the same compendia were then reexamined to assess the degree of error resolution.

Results: A total of 859 errors were identified, with the greatest percentage in Safety and Patient Education categories. Across the seven compendia, the complete or partial resolution of errors was 34 percent; therefore, nearly two thirds of the identified errors remain.

Conclusion: The results of this analysis, consistent with past studies, demonstrate that online drug-information compendia may contain inaccurate information. Healthcare professionals and consumers must be informed of potential misinformation so they may consider using multiple resources to obtain accurate and current drug information, thereby helping to ensure safer use of prescription medications, such as opioids.


Keywords


drug-information compendia, product information corrections, compendia errors, drug compendia accuracy, electronic drug information

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2016.0343

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