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There are numerous web sites that provide information on medications. Sorting through all this information can be confusing and trying to find out which sites are accurate and reliable can be difficult. We review these web sites and post our conclusions below. In effect, we are rating these web sites so you know what sites are useful and reliable.


Consumer Reports

www.crbestbuydrugs.org Overall Rating: *** out of *****

Consumer Reports has always done a good job on evaluating consumer products and posting their conclusions in a way that consumers understand. This web site is no exception. The information is accurate and was well researched. The site is relatively new so there are a limited number of medication categories listed.

Limitations: This site is designed in a manner consistent with other Consumer Reports ratings so it is easy to understand differences between drugs. However, it is not specific to medication use in older adults. Another limitation is that is focuses clearly on how to save on prescription drug costs and not specific medication concerns related to medication use in older adults. In typical consumer-based fashion this site focuses on up front costs and NOT alternate and perhaps more effective cost savings strategies. Consulting with an ElderDrug consultant will offer you these alternatives.

Strengths: The information contained on this site is accurate. Information does guide the user to find lower cost alternatives to the same or similar prescription drugs. The suggestions can lead to significant cost savings and we feel the recommendations are safe.


National Institutes of Health

www.nih.gov Overall rating:    ***** of *****

The National Institutes of Health is a government sponsored organization that performs enormous amounts of research on health. The information on this site is unbiased and reliable. The search function should be used to find specific information to your related need(s). The site is easy to navigate and you can find information on just about any health related topic, not just medication use in older adults.

Limitations: Since the site is so large a user with little surfing experience can get lost and frustrated. Regardless, for your average user or higher functioning computer user this site is easy to navigate. There are numerous links to other reliable web sites. For example, information on drug use in Alzheimer’s Disease will link to the Alzheimer’s Association web site, another reliable source of information regarding drug use in older adults.

Strengths: The font/print size is adjustable so older adults can more easily read the content. There are numerous topics that are related to older adults. The information can be general but links to other sites or pages can provide more specific information on medication related concerns in older adults.


Worst Pills

www.worstpills.org Overall Rating:    ** of *****

The last thing I want to read when searching for reliable information is “soap box” blathering about what one thinks is a conspiracy by the drug companies to dupe older adults into using what they deem useless or dangerous medications. This site is NOT recommended for those who are looking for objective evidence that will help them make informed decisions.

Limitations: One observation about this site is that the authors seem to have preconceived opinions about medication use in older adults. For example, they suggest that the drug companies that make medications to help slow the progression of memory loss “scare” people into thinking they need these medications when in effect they suggest these medications are useless. Now, if that wouldn’t scare your average reader into not taking a potentially beneficial medication then I don’t know what will.

Strengths: Although a good portion of the content on this site is biased and presented in a manner that as a health care professional I would consider to be inappropriate, there is some content that is accurate an useful. However, what makes this content useless is that the average user wouldn’t know the difference between what is useful and useless. The only strength I can see in this site is that someone is at least making an attempt to bring to light some of the concerns that we are seeing with medication use in older adults. We just think it could be done in a more objective manner.


Alzheimer’s Association

www.alz.org Overall rating:    ***** of *****

Here is a web site that understands it’s user needs. Memory loss is a frightening disease that affects millions of American’s and what older adults worry about most. They are sensitive to the needs of those with memory loss and also the needs of caregivers and family. The content is reliable and there are numerous articles that can be found under the search function that objectively explain benefits yet limitations to certain medications used in the prevention and management of memory loss.

Limitations: There is little to be critical about with this site.

Strengths: The content is written in a manner that the lay person can understand. It is objective and balanced. The content is broad enough so that any number of articles can be found on topics related to memory loss. For those that need reliable guidance on memory loss this site is highly recommended as a first stop.


National Institutes of Aging

www.nia.nih.gov Overall rating:    ***** of *****

The National Institutes of Health, National Institutes on Aging, has done a wonderful job on bringing evidence-based information to the consumer level that is also targeted to the older adult population. You’ll find excellent and FREE resources on this site which are pertinent to healthy aging and not just what medications to use for specific conditions. It talks about exercise, of which you can order on-line with the click of a button and for FREE, an older adult exercise book delivered to your door step, along with the information pages under the theme Age Page for just about any older adult syndrome you can think of. The importance of these Age Pages can not be overstated since many older adult American’s subscribe to the decline seen in late life yet this information helps older adults understand what they have control over thus being more prepared to age successfully. Go to the web site and then click on Publications. You can go to Healthy Aging or All Publications and you’ll find just about any topic you need. There are English and Spanish versions available on-line.

This is an excellent site that all older adults and their children need to view.

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Consumer Labs

www.consumerlabs.com Overall rating: **** of *****

This is a subscription website that’s worth every penny, and then some. (It’s only $29.95 per year.) In existence since 1999, Consumer Labs provides independent test results for supplements and other OTC products.  They test for the labeled amount, dissolution rates, and contaminants, among other things. This site is useful is in ensuring that you purchase only reliable and safe products. People tend to purchase a supplement after hearing of its benefits and then they go out and buy the product  they can find the cheapest, not knowing that FDA does not closely regulate supplements. The result is you paying for a supplement you think is one thing, when it may not even contain the active ingredient,  or it may even be contaminated. One example of the value of their knowledge is when we were shopping for chromium. Chromium in its safe and effective form is called trivalent chromium, but some products can be contaminated with hexavalent chromium which is toxic. Consumer Labs tested these products and helped sort out which chromium product we would recommend to someone. There’s not much point in doing all the work to find out a supplement is beneficial for you and then go and buy something that’s not reliable or can even cause you harm. The short side of this site is that not all supplements are listed.

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Ask A Patient

www.askapatient.com No rating; Just plain fun!

This site is a compilation of what people experience with their medications, which includes an overall satisfaction rating that each individual assigns to that particular medication. It’s not, by any means, an evidence-based website, but it does deliver an interesting perspective regarding adverse effects of medications: People are reasonably reliable at knowing when they are experiencing an adverse effect (side-effect) to a medication, when it is not severe, i.e. not life-threatening. This principle I refer to in my article on Falls and Adverse Drug Events: The Chicken or the Egg?, in which I refer to an article that measured the ability of people to detect adverse effects with a 71% sensitivity and an 80% selectivity. i.e. 71% likelihood of being right that it is occurring and 80% likelihood when an adverse event is not occurring. So what can be gleaned from this site is just a satisfaction of curiosity if you suspect you are experiencing an adverse drug event, you can go to this site and search for it under the specific drug name. That being said, you can then see how often other people speak to it, keeping in mind you have to be cautious of those that list everything under the sun and think everything is happening to them, and those that may not understand the placebo effect. Again, I caution you to not take much information from this site as legitimate, but it does add a certain level of confirmation in some instances by seeing how other people may have confirmed a suspected adverse drug event.

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National Institutes of Health

www.nih.gov Overall rating:    ***** of *****

The National Institutes of Health is a government sponsored organization that performs enormous amounts of research on health. The information on this site is unbiased and reliable. The search function should be used to find specific information to your related need(s). The site is easy to navigate and you can find information on just about any health related topic, not just medication use in older adults.

Limitations: Since the site is so large a user with little surfing experience can get lost and frustrated. Regardless, for your average user or higher functioning computer user this site is easy to navigate. There are numerous links to other reliable web sites. For example, information on drug use in Alzheimer’s Disease will link to the Alzheimer’s Association web site, another reliable source of information regarding drug use in older adults.

Strengths: The font/print size is adjustable so older adults can more easily read the content. There are numerous topics that are related to older adults. The information can be general but links to other sites or pages can provide more specific information on medication related concerns in older adults.

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FDA Adverse Drug Event Reporting

http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/default.htm Not rated

The purpose of this link is to give you a resource to be able to report a suspected or confirmed adverse drug reaction to the FDA so they can research it further. After-market information related to adverse drug events is very useful at detecting adverse reactions that were not found in pre-market clinical studies and can otherwise be harmful to a large group of people. This link is to the FDA website and explains how to report a suspected adverse drug reaction or other adverse health event. It is advised to first make your best effort at verifying the likelihood that you are experiencing an adverse drug reaction by talking with your physician or pharmacist. Keep in mind, many people are fairly good at detecting if a drug is causing an adverse reaction, for example a statin causing memory loss. So if you suspect something is happening as a result of a medication you are taking, don’t short-change yourself but take action and persist in finding out what’s going on. One study showed that many people who suspect they are experiencing an adverse drug reaction are not being paid attention to by their health care providers. So persist until you get an adequate response.

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Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP)

http://www.ismp-canada.org/index.htm   ***** out of *****

This organization provides a wealth of resources for hospitals, long term care facilities and pharmacies all focused on preventing adverse drug events as a result of the medication use process. It offers newsletters that are well written and excellent for nursing staff as well as non-licensed care givers of assisted living facilities. They offer webinars on a routine basis that are well designed and relevant to addressing medication error prevention in the correct context of systems and environmental issues. For any organization that wishes to play a proactive role in addressing medication error prevention, this site it highly recommended. It will teach you core principals and provide you with the resources to use in your facility for staff  training and medication error tracking, root cause analysis, and system re-engineering.