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Online Drug Information Resources (June 2015): The Medical Letter Online

By Kristy Steigerwalt

The Medical Letter Online

This subscription-only online journal ( has provided evidence-based disease and drug information since 1959. Its goal is to offer “unbiased, reliable, and timely drug information” for busy health care professionals. The editorial process involves the consensus of experts who attempt to summarize the most effective treatment options. From here, the information is vetted by contributing editors; ten to twenty expert investigators; the FDA; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when pertinent; and the authors referenced. Unpublished and published information is reviewed for content inclusion, and evaluations are extensively referenced. Objectivity and lack of content bias are set forth as the site’s essential mission. Information in the treatment guidelines and summaries includes adverse effects, drug interactions (not interactive for users), class comparisons, and cost-effectiveness. Advertising and industry promotion is strictly prohibited. Contact information is provided via e-mail, telephone, and a physical address.

Information is geared to practitioners, instructors, and others involved with clinical work. The main search box can filter for treatment guidelines, or search all Medical Letter publications. An advanced search offers date range limits and indexes, with searching by synonym, issue number, phrases in quotations, Boolean operators, or wildcards. A”did you mean” function helps avoid misspellings. As a caveat, search results are not always intuitively arranged, though sorting by relevance is automatically enabled (alternatively by date). For example, a search for the antihypertensive lisinopril yields “tablet splitting” as the first result. Distinctive features of the site include continuing education options; a handbook of antimicrobial therapy; an app; availability in five languages; and useful therapeutic class charts that provide dosing information, formulation, pregnancy category, and adverse effects. Content is authoritative, relatively current, and well researched, with hyperlinks to referenced articles. The date of last update is provided for individual pages. Page loading is fast. One drawback is the lack of a “jump to” feature within results to decrease scrolling. The Medical Letter is a well-referenced, heavily vetted source of drug and medical information that provides content in a well-organized format.


Highly recommended for health care practitioners, faculty, staff, and undergraduate/graduate students looking for a concise, authoritative, and readable resource. Content may be too specific and complex for general students and the public.