Here at iMedicalApps we have reviewed many drug guides over the years. Recently, we wrote an article on “3 Alternatives to Epocrates” where we highlighted Lexi-Comp, MicroMedex and Medscape. In daily practice, I tend to use Epocrates in clinic and Lexi-Comp on the wards. For those looking for a free drug guide, I recommend Medscape.
But what if all you wanted to know was about generic and drug names? What if you weren’t sure about the brand name of atorvastatin or the generic name of Vytorin? You could use one of the four apps mentioned above or check out the Generic Brand Reference (GBR) Guide by Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a large generic brand pharmaceutical company. The app had two primary functions: generic-to-brand name cross-reference and brand-to-generic cross reference. The app also prominently lists the Mylan company portfolio of pharmaceuticals.
Let’s take a look at the GBR app via a patient scenario. You are seeing John, a 67 year old male with hyperlipidemia in clinic with his wife. They have questions about John’s cholesterol drug but are confused about the differences between the generic and brand names of various cholesterol drugs.
Content: Can I trust the app’s health and medical information?
Maybe. The app was developed by the Mylan Pharmaceutical Company which has an extensive portfolio of generic drugs. The app information appears valid. However, the information section of the app clearly states that it is not a complete listing of generic or brand name drugs and is only for US healthcare professionals. The app obviously has some conflicts of interest as it was developed by pharma and one third of the app’s home page is dedicated to looking up drugs in the Mylan portfolio. The app included a phone number to contact the developer (Mylan) to leave feedback.
Usability: will the app work as expected and in a meaningful way?
Somewhat. The app allows the provider to quickly look up a drug by either its brand name or generic name. It additionally provides pictures of the drug pills/tablets/capsules. However, it gives no information of proper drug dosing or even the basic indications on why you would use the drug. This lack of basic “drug guide” functionality greatly limits the real utility of the app.
Privacy: how is personal data protected and used?
Not good. The app initially does not ask for any information when you download it. However, in order to get any future database updates you must provide Mylan information which it states in the app information section that it collects and “may be stored or processed on computers located in any country where we do business” (which is many). Furthermore, after the initial use of the app you are constantly pestered by a screen asking you to login or register for an account which then opens you up to the above privacy issues. potential improvement of asthma care via use of patient portals. However, the app doesn’t give any information about how the data is protected, etc.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
- Easy to use interface for generic to brand, brand to generic drug cross-reference.
- Includes pictures of pills/doses.
- No true utility other than described above.
- Real concerns about provider privacy protection if you register for an account.
- Heavy pharma influence in app design/function.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
- Multimedia Usage
- Real World Applicability
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6 running iOS 8.4.1
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad