OBJECTIVES: To evaluate prescription drug information contained in six consumer drug information databases available on CD-ROM, and to make health care professionals aware of the information provided, so that they may appropriately recommend these databases for use by their patients. DESIGN: Observational study of six consumer drug information databases: The Corner Drug Store, Home Medical Advisor, Mayo Clinic Family Pharmacist, Medical Drug Reference, Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia, and PharmAssist. SETTING: Not applicable. PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Not applicable. INTERVENTIONS: Information on 20 frequently prescribed drugs was evaluated in each database. The databases were ranked using a point-scale system based on primary and secondary assessment criteria. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: For the primary assessment, 20 categories of information based on those included in the 1998 edition of the USP DI Volume II, Advice for the Patient: Drug Information in Lay Language were evaluated for each of the 20 drugs, and each database could earn up to 400 points (for example, 1 point was awarded if the database mentioned a drug's mechanism of action). For the secondary assessment, the inclusion of 8 additional features that could enhance the utility of the databases was evaluated (for example, 1 point was awarded if the database contained a picture of the drug), and each database could earn up to 8 points. RESULTS: The results of the primary and secondary assessments, listed in order of highest to lowest number of points earned, are as follows: Primary assessment--Mayo Clinic Family Pharmacist (379), Medical Drug Reference (251), PharmAssist (176), Home Medical Advisor (113.5), The Corner Drug Store (98), and Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia (18.5); secondary assessment--The Mayo Clinic Family Pharmacist (8), The Corner Drug Store (5), Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia (5), Home Medical Advisor (4), Medical Drug Reference (4), and PharmAssist (3). CONCLUSION: The Mayo Clinic Family Pharmacist was the most accurate and complete source of prescription drug information based on the USP DI Volume II and would be an appropriate database for health care professionals to recommend to patients.
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