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Online Drug Information Resources (June 2015): Epocrates Online

By Kristy Steigerwalt

Epocrates Online

This freely available portal ( aims to provide peer-reviewed, clinical drug and disease information at the point of care to physicians and other clinical providers. Drug information appears to be provided by Cerner Multum. Categories include manufacturer package labeling, FDA announcements, analysis of primary medical literature, review articles, guidelines, drug links to suppliers, and textbooks. The site also mentions “proprietary content developed by the Epocrates Medical Information editors.” Since some of this material may be funded by “an external entity,” possible bias cannot be ruled out. A free site registration is required to view content. Dates of revision appear with individual monographs. Links are available to free patient education materials (some in multiple languages). The site provides disease information, pill identification, a drug interactions checker, alerts, medical calculators, and tables comparing everything from medications within a class to an outline of medical conditions. The drug interaction checker organizes results by clinical significance. Alternative medical information is also available. A paid upgrade includes a broader scope of information from entities like the British Medical Group, including dosage calculators and printable patient handouts. Epocrates Online’s mobile device apps range from freely available to fee-based.

Links to relevant external sites such as the FDA’s adverse events reporting system are offered, as is the option of checking specific insurance formularies and assistance programs such as Coventry, TRICARE, Medicare Part D, or Target’s $4 generic drugs program. Users may add additional formularies, e.g., Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Searchers may use a simple search box to look for brand, generic, or alternative medications, or for drug names, or to search by drug classes or specific medical conditions. An A-Z list is offered, as well as drug look-up from any page. Page loading is rapid, and content is current. Misspellings are not accounted for, but matching terms are mapped while typing.

Search results are organized intuitively as entire monographs or individual pages (e.g., pharmacology, pill pictures). Individual monographs are well organized in navigable hyperlinked categories, e.g., uses, dosing, formulations, contraindications, drug interactions, adverse reactions, manufacturer/pricing, and alternatives. Users may also add to the drug interaction checker. Clinical information on this site is not complete or in-depth, e.g., in areas like mechanism of action; those seeking primary sources for clinical studies may be better served by PubMed or subscription databases like Clinical Pharmacology.

Drug information for obscure and current medications may be incomplete as well; for example, those searching for contrast dye information will find more comprehensive information in Micromedex.


Recommended for health care students, faculty, and professionals who seek fast, current, point-of-care access to information on prescribed and over-the-counter drugs, alternative medicine, and disease state management, including issues related to insurance and drug pricing information.