The Drugs.com app is a medication reference brings the popular Drugs.com website to mobile devices. Drugs.com’s goal is to provide comprehensive and up-to-date drug information, in versions for consumers and healthcare providers. This goal is well-met with an impressive list of resources from which the web and app content is derived including Micromedex, the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists, and Mayo Clinic. Users can search a variety of medication topics including drug monographs, an interaction checker, pregnancy and breastfeeding database, pill identifier, and side effect database. Professional information contains much of what is included for the patient while the patient version includes a cost database for popular drugs. Users may choose their version and can toggle from one to the other at any time.
Users may register for a free account through the Drugs.com app that allows them to save a personal drug list, but the app doesn’t require an account for general use. Account information is used to provide targeted ads in the app. Users may opt-out of participation in behavioral advertising, however, general ads will still appear in the app.
The Drugs.com app drug database is extensive and provides FDA labeling in the professional section with more lay-friendly language in the patient version. Users may search for medications via brand or generic names or disease states. The patient version includes a list of the 40 most searched drugs. Because it is package insert information, guideline-specific dosing may not be available as in the case of pediatric dosing of Augmentin suspension for otitis media.
One disadvantage: brand drugs that are no longer available such as Prinzide are included in the database. Epocrates has the edge here by including a note in the drug entry that the brand is no longer manufactured.
A couple of unique features in the Drugs.com app help identify those medications with unpronouncable names. Within some monographs, there is a pronunciation button which will speak the drug name. Unfortunately, it’s not available for all medications in the database, particularly those newer -mab and -nib drugs that have more syllables than indications. There is also a phonetic and wildcard search feature that allows users to search based on how a drug sounds and using asterisks in the drug name if only a few letters are known.
Other cool features include a searchable database of drug safety in pregnancy and lactation and a side effect checker. The pregnancy and lactation database provides information on U.S. and other countries’ safety ratings for drugs during pregnancy and whether the medication is safe or should be avoided while breastfeeding. The side effects database is a nice idea but the information provided comes from search term hits with no clarity on actual relevance. For example, a search for diarrhea as a side effect provided Pepto Diarrhea Control medication (loperamide) and oxycontin as potential iatrogenic causes of diarrhea.
A symptom checker powered by Harvard Health Publications is included with the app. Users first designate gender and whether the patient is pediatric. A series of questions is asked based on location and characteristics of the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Answers that could indicate an emergent condition offer a recommendation to see a provider while common conditions like headache may suggest using typical remedies then seeing a provider if the patient experiences no relief.
Drugs.com also includes a pill identifier and interaction checker, similar to those found in other drug information apps. Drug interactions are ranked according to clinical importance.
Drugs.com certainly is poised to compete with Epocrates in the drug information realm. A few unique features like the spoken drug pronunciations, symptom checker and side effects database set it apart, though the side effect checker needs the ability to rank the info provided on relevance. The drug database is robust but only includes package insert info which may not always be consistent with current guidelines or manufacturing information.
- Transparency and reliability of sources
- Drug pronunciation and phonetic/wildcard search features
- Searchable database for drugs usable in pregnancy and lactation
- Side effects database provides irrelevant search results
- Drug database provides package insert information only
- Symptom checker may lead patients not to seek care
Drugs.com Medication Guide is an app you can use with confidence and recommend to your patients. Patient information is easy to understand and includes info on medication costs. The drugs in pregnancy and breastfeeding database is an extremely useful feature. Streamlining the side effects checker would make the app even better.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
Easy to navigate and switch between sections and versions of the app.
- Multimedia Usage
Some multimedia available in drug ads, but very little overall.
Quite a lot of useful information available in a free app.
- Real World Applicability
Need drug dosing more consistent with guidelines and some streamlining of the side effects database.
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6s and iPad Air 2
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad