You can find information about the medicines you take all over the Internet. Hype and scams surround us. So, what information can you trust?
The most trustworthy source is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Only after the FDA approves a new medicine can you buy it in the U.S. Each prescription has to include the prescribing information, which people commonly call the package insert or labeling.
The FDA and the drug company that makes the medicine carefully work out the precise language of the prescribing information. If you are already taking a medicine and your eyesight is good enough to deal with the fine print, you can unfold the package insert and read it. But the best way to learn about things like any warnings or adverse reactions, the dose, and how to use the medicine is to read prescribing information online.
A new government website already has the prescribing information for more than 1,600 prescription drugs that the FDA has approved. You can find it on DailyMed. This site is a part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
You can search the site or browse by the name of the drug. But when you search, you have to know the generic name of the drug, not just the brand name. To find Glucophage prescribing information, for example, you have to search for metformin.
The site doesn’t yet include all of the approved medicines. For example, if you search for insulin, you will find seven insulins listed. This includes Lantus (insulin glargine), Apidra (insulin glulisine), three types of Humulin, and two types of NovoLog (insulin aspart).
But you can buy more types of insulins than these in the U.S. An important omission is the new Levemir (insulin detemir), which Novo Nordisk, which makes. The company does have the full prescribing information for Levemir online. Prescribing information for Humalog (insulin lispro) is also missing. Lilly has the full prescribing information for Humalog online.
Still, the DailyMed site is the best place to find prescribing information for most types of insulin. However, an easier way to find prescribing information for the oral medications that people with diabetes use might be a web page on my site.
That web page is Part 11 of On-line Diabetes Resources, “Diabetes Medicines Web Sites”. It includes links to all of the prescribing information pages for diabetes pills that I have been able to find. You can search it by either generic or brand name.
Prescribing information is technical and like anything that a committee produces can sometimes be hard to read. But it is the most reliable information that we have for all of the drugs that we take.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.