Online Drug Information Compendia Can Lead to Prescription Misuse

Researchers find inaccuracies in ODIC drug summaries.

Online drug information compendia (ODIC) is a tool often used by consumers and health care professionals (HCP) to further their understanding on pharmaceutical products. A recent study, however, has found that ODIC can contain misinformation and potentially pose a threat for misuse and harm.

During the study, researchers sought to identify the accuracy of ODIC drug summaries. Medical information specialists from 11 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies were contacted to participate in the Collaborate Compendia Review Project.

Between August 2014 and January 2015, the study evaluated 270 drug summaries for misinformation within 5 commonly used ODIC: Medscape Reference, Lexicomp Online: Lexi-Drugs, Epocrates Online, Drugs.com, and RxList.

Researchers used the Content-Correction Requests table, a tool developed by Purdue Pharma LP. The standardized table was designed to gain misinformation/errors within the drug summaries; proposed corrections; and supporting evidence from product Full Prescribing Information (FPI), IFUs, and Medication Guides.

The errors were identified as either inaccurate, incomplete, or omitted and categorized per sections of the FPI. Once the reviewer finished each drug summary review and populated the Content-Correction Requests table within a 2-week period, the table was sent to the peer reviewer for approval. Any content-correction requests were proposed and supported by the respective product’s FPI.

The median of the total number of identified errors were 782 amongst the 270 drug summaries (range, n = 444-1094). The majority of errors were classified as incomplete, inaccurate, and omitted, with the greatest number of errors found within the categories: Dosage and Administration (n = 149), Patient Education (n = 137), and Warnings and Precautions (n = 123).

In the HCP-focused compendia, 162 drug summaries were reviewed within the 3 HCP-ODIC. The median of the total number of errors identified was 899 (range, n = 782-1094). The 3 categories with the greatest median number of errors were warnings and precautions, dosage and administration, and patient education.

The consumer-focused compendia reviewed 108 drug summaries within the 2 consumer-ODIC. The median of the total number of errors was 456 (range, n = 444-467). The largest median number of errors identified with the categories were dosage and administration (n = 121) and general patient education (n = 73).

The analysis was able to demonstrate that although the ODICs are helpful and informative, they can also contain misinformation.

In order for HCPs and consumers to obtain accurate, unbiased, and complete product-specific drug information, they should take into consideration more than 1 drug information resource, including the Medication Guide, the FPI, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies’ medical information departments, the study concluded.