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Pharmaceutical association launches electronic drugs compendium for patients

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 29 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:272
  1. Gavin Yamey
  1. BMJ

    The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry last week launched an addition to its electronic version of its medicines compendium that is aimed at patients and their carers.

    The electronic medicines compendium ( has been available to doctors since November 1999. As this version carries drug advertisements, it cannot be accessed by the public. The new patient compendium is free of direct adverts, though it does list brand named products, and the manufacturer's logo appears at the top of each data sheet.

    Patients will have access to three types of information—data sheets, summaries of products' characteristics, and patient information leaflets. Information can be searched for by name of drug, active ingredient, or manufacturer.

    The association believes that its compendium has two important advantages over other health websites. The information is regulated, as it has been approved by the Medicines Control Agency, and it will be updated daily. In the future, the site will have links to other health resources, including a textbook of diseases and a medical dictionary.

    Although the website has been welcomed by pharmacists and patients' groups, widespread concern exists that the information is currently too technical to be understood by a lay readership. Margaret Hewetson, director of drug information for South Thames region, told the association at the launch: “The compendium needs to be accessible to the public—you need to make the information understandable and usable.”

    The Consumers' Association, in collaboration with the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, has also launched an initiative aimed at patients. Information from the monthly bulletin is being published in a series of leaflets for patients, the first of which deal with how to lose weight and how to treat influenza.

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