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Online Drug Information Resources (June 2015): MedlinePlus Drug Information

By Kristy Steigerwalt

MedlinePlus Drug Information

This well-known website ( is a product of the National Library of Medicine, supported by resources from the National Institutes of Health. Medication information comes from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists via AHFS Consumer Medication Information, and the consumer version of the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Of note, a link to the NMCD database for independent searching is not sponsored; only monographs are provided. Updated daily, this site aims to provide reliable and timely health information free of charge.

The initial interface is simple and clean, with information on indications, administration, precautions, dietary restrictions, missing doses, side effects, overdosage, and storage of over a thousand prescription and over-the-counter medications and over a hundred herbal supplements. MedlinePlus offers broad coverage for health-related topics, but is not comprehensive for drug information, omitting aspects of drug therapy such as pharmacokinetics and mechanisms of action and lacking pill identification and drug interaction software. The site is well organized and easily navigable. Pages load quickly and provide a clear outline of content, which may be e-mailed, printed, or shared on social media. This resource provides additional links to related topics, medical research, and clinical trials. Sources are given for individual elements of disease summaries, mostly from government websites. MedlinePlus has strict guidelines for inclusion of web links and prohibits advertisements. A distinctive feature is the option to subscribe to e-mail updates for individual disease conditions.

Material may be located via a general search box (not specific to drug information), and by browsing generic or brand names or an A-Z list of medications. A “did you mean” function for misspellings is provided. Individual drug monographs are current and provide the date of last revision. Available in both English and Spanish, monographs are intended for patients seeking basic information about their medications. A mobile version features disease-state information and links to drug information. Input is invited via a comment link at the top of every web page. While not specific to drug information, MedlinePlus provides credible, reliable, and authoritative basic content.


Recommended for health care professionals and students looking for readable patient education materials, and for patients, their families and friends, and other consumers (including undergraduate students) seeking reliable basic drug information, reinforced by comprehensive health care information.