Rx Studies Online Have Disorganized and Confusing Side Effect Data, Study States

Rx Studies Online Have Disorganized and Confusing Side Effect Data, Study States

February 9th, 2012 // 1:24 pm @

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Source: Pharmalot

Here is a finding that will likely thrill drugmakers that argue consumers should avoid purchasing their meds over the Internet: a majority of web sites selling cholesterol pills lacked information about contraindications, key warnings and side effects. Moreover, risk information was presented in a “chaotic” fashion and one-third failed to describe side effects in layman’s language.

Specifically, general contraindications were missing in 92 percent and info about contraindicated medicines was absent in 47.3 percent. Warnings about symptoms associated with myopathy, liver disease, hypersensitivity and pancreatitis were absent in 37 percent; 48 percent; 91 percent, and 96 percent, respectively. Only 7 percent listed side effects compatible with current prescribing info.

“This has potentially serious implications for the safety of purchasers who may not be aware of the problems associated with ordering medicines online or the actual medication, which they receive. Direct to consumer advertising websites need tighter controls,” write the authors in the latest issue of Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety.

The authors last fall reviewed 184 that sell atorvastatin (Lipitor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor) and 24 for fluvastatin (Lescol). Three types of sites were reviewed: those offering statins for sale directly to consumers without a prescription; those offering promotional information but no sales info, and those containing purchase info that may or may not be linked to television ads. The location of 40 percent of the sites could not be determined.

What else did they find? Well, just 5 percent stated that one or more of the meds was prescription only and just 8 percent noted these were for adults. Moreover, only 46 percent mentioned that a consumer should speak with a physician if they were already taking other meds. Two-thirds lacked clear instructions on how and when to take the meds, as well as storage instructions.

And here is another interesting finding: 8 of the websites were running ads that offered free Viagra with the purchase of any cholesterol med. The amount offered was in proportion to the amount of the cholesterols pill that were purchased. No clinical diagnosis was offered. The authors note that erectile dysfunction meds are not contraindicated with cholesterol meds, they should be used cautiously by men with cardiovascular disease; those with hypercholesterolaemia are predisposed.

“These data imply that adverts are designed to hide information from patients to widen the number of people who think that they can safely take (cholesterol) medicines, thereby increasing sales, or lack of research during site development,” the authors conclude, adding that few sites prioritized the four most serious side effects associated with statins, even though these constitute medical emergencies.

Source: Pharmalot

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