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Fact and Stats

Canadians who use the Internet to search for information on prescription drugs often are directed to pharmaceutical company websites and Wikipedia, while U.S. residents who use Google to search for the same information typically see a top result from the National Library of Medicine, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

For the study, researchers from the University of British Columbia conducted Web searches on nearly 300 generic and brand-name drugs and found that:

  • 85% of the Canadian searches listed Wikipedia as the first search result; and
  • 80% of the Canadian searches listed industry websites among their top results.

In comparison, researchers found that about three-quarters of U.S. searches using Google provided drug information from NLM as the top result.

According to the researchers, the Canadian search results could pose risks because Wikipedia often lacks certain information on medications, and drug companies might omit warnings on adverse side effects.

The difference likely stems from a partnership that Google and NIH formed last year to provide U.S. Internet users with NLM drug information at the top of their search results. The Canadian government does not have any similar partnerships with online search engines.

Read more

Source: The Sources and Popularity of Online Drug Information: An Analysis of Top Search Engine Results and Web Page Views

Date: February 22, 2010

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 at 3:10 pm and is filed under Longwoods Online.