A comparison of the consumer information in pharmaceutical company web sites and reference articles
Shah, J.; Mathews, S.; Goode, A.; Cabral, A.; Cook, C. and Pietrobon, R. (2009) A comparison of the consumer information in pharmaceutical company web sites and reference articles. Indian Journal of Medical Informatics, 4 (1). pp. 4-4. ISSN 0973-9254
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BACKGROUND Despite their many benefits to consumers, pharmaceutical direct to consumer (DTC) marketing sites have the potential to misinform. This could have potentially far-reaching negative consequences on the health of consumers, needing stringent quality control to assess the authenticity of the websites' claims. We examined pharmaceutical DTC websites to compare their claims of efficacy and side effect/ limitations against their references. This study is a direct, structured, observational study of pharmaceutical websites. The information of four randomly selected pharmaceutical DTC websites and their five drugs, were compared for the accuracy concerning efficacy, side effects and limitations with cited reference material. Analyses were scored as: Yes, No and Unsatisfactory. RESULTS A total of 45 claims of efficacy and 32 claims of drug side effects/limitations were supported from corresponding referenced studies. The websites provided, referenced support of 45 of the 65 claims of efficacy. Side effects and limitations were poorly represented with 32 of the 85 referenced claims being found in the corresponding websites in comparison to supporting articles. CONCLUSIONS Majority of pharmaceutical websites provide a greater number and proportion of references regarding claims of efficacy as compared to side effects and limitations.
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