Exclusive: Apple is now rejecting new medical apps that include drug dosages

In lieu of the FDA’s recent inquiry into the uCheck urine analyzer app, it appears Apple might be tightening restrictions on medical app developers.

It appears that a number of developers have struggled recently to get medical applications into the App Store with the reason below being cited.

Below is the response developers have told iMedicalApps:

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 21.16.24

One developer noted that they have now had multiple apps rejected from the App Store and as a result have decided to stop developing for the iOS platform and are going to instead concentrate on the Android platform.

This has many implications for healthcare professionals and patients alike. 

  • The ability to look up a drug dosage on a mobile device is one of the main reasons healthcare professionals use a mobile device. At this point, it’s unclear if apps like Epocrates or Medscape are free from the Section 1.2 rule since they could argue they are using dosage information from the medicine’s manufacturer. But how does Apple confirm the dosages are correct? Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 21.21.29

 

  • Many medical textbook apps contain information related to dosing.  Does this mean Apple will reject a textbook app if one part of it contains any drug information?
  • Only allowing applications which have been developed by pharmaceutical companies opens up the potential for biased medical information and targeted advertising
  • What happens to medications that are off brand, do we need hundreds of different applications to tell us how to prescribe Tylenol?

What I’m most concerned about is the following:  We often prescribe off label use of medications — especially in the pediatric population.  The manufacturers often don’t have clear guidelines for the administration of the dosages. Does this mean we won’t be able to look up dosages within apps?

And then more general concerns:

  • What will happen to existing apps containing dosing information?
  • Who is going to verify the information contained in each of the apps?

As mentioned at the beginning, this might be a knee jerk reaction by Apple to the recent crackdown on medical applications by the FDA as noted in the recent uCheck incident. Or, this could be an existing rule that Apple is only selectively enforcing.

iMedicalApps has reached out to Apple for a comment we will let our readers know if we get a response. We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.

Tom Lewis is a co-author on this piece.