Direct URL: drugs.globe1234.com
Patients can get independent information on drugs and medical devices from sites listed farther down on this page (many track your IP address; you can check their privacy statements).
A. This page is not about substance use disorders, but here are 2 resources
The sources in italics below cover medical devices, like pacemakers, artificial joints, lenses, etc. as well as drugs. FDA has a search box for US recalls of medical devices, and the press has an international list. Many devices have serious problems, and experts advise finding how many patients a device was tested on, how many times your doctor has installed it, and how it can be removed if necessary, before getting it implanted.
B. GENERAL SITES ON DRUGS AND MEDICAL DEVICES:
Advice from WorstPills.org, the first site below:
D. Erroneous Prescriptions
The NY Times has a good 2020 article about errors when drug stores give the wrong pills to patients, and ways to protect yourself.
There are even big problems when doctors send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. This is more reliable than hand-written faxes, but:
Cancellation orders are crucial to correct mistakes and cancel refills. Patients can overdose when they keep getting the old medicine after the doctor orders a new one. Only a third of prescribers and 40% of pharmacies use software certified to handle cancellations, so less than a third of cancellations can go through. "Electronic health records allow prescribers to stop a prescription, but what many physicians may not realize is that in most cases that directive is not sent to any pharmacy," even though original prescriptions are reliably sent. Some doctors put cancellation orders in the notes of a new prescription, where many pharmacists will not see it.
Health systems like the Veterans Health Administration and Kaiser Permanente can cancel electronically, where prescriber and pharmacy are in the same organization. Otherwise only 5 pharmacy chains accept e-cancellations (CancelRx):
No other chain is certified for e-cancellation, such as Walgreens ($57 billion of US prescriptions) and Walmart ($19 billion). Consumer Reports unfortunately recommends Costco and Sam's Club for price (uncertified), Walgreens for its apps (uncertified), and supermarket chains for convenience (only Kroger's is certified). CR should know better.
Doctors can cancel electronically only if their software is certified under "CancelRx". Out of 954 systems, only 156 are marked as certified, and usually only the latest updates. If your doctor is part of a large group, you can ask the group to ensure its software gets certified and updated. Individual doctors have little control. CancelRx is getting more widespread, but the sponsor, Surescripts, is not willing to say how many doctors or pharmacies use it.
Automatic refills are even more dangerous. When pharmacies call patients to say, "Your prescription is ready," patients and callers do not know whether the doctor recently ordered it or it is a zombie renewal. Costco, CVS, RiteAid and Walgreens encourage patients to sign up for automatic refills, so patients at Costco and Walgreens (two which lack e-cancellations) can get undesired medicine for long periods, thinking their doctor ordered it.
Prior authorization for prescriptions is a system where an insurer tells a pharmacy that a doctor needs to send the insurer detailed information and get the insurer's approval for the prescription. Insurers tell pharmacies, not doctors or patients, when prior authorization is needed, and pharmacies say they have no obligation to tell doctors, though they have the forms and information which the doctor needs, and no one else does. A Massachusetts court says pharmacies must tell doctors, and a doctor says the entire circuitous system of prior authorization for drugs kills patients.
Direct Payments which doctors get from major medical companies (Medicare's site) and drug companies (ProPublica's site) show which doctors have strong bonds with the companies. Patients need to decide if these affect their care. The sites do not reveal profits from doctors' own businesses. Consumer Reports says that when a doctor orders X-rays or other scans, "ask whether he is financially affiliated with" the radiology clinic, since "studies have found that physicians who own scanners or are part owners of radiology clinics use imaging substantially more than others."
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) May 2 2017 summarizes a lot of research on how payments from drug and equipment companies affect doctors' decisions, usually sub-consciously. Where policies change or payments stop or start, average prescribing practices then change. Public Citizen has a less detailed November 2017 update.
A 2021 study found that dental research supported by companies found larger effects of treatment than independent research.
Nurses also get payments and meals from drug companies, but only Massachusetts tracks these payments.
Drug companies also have constant access to doctors and give them biased information. A 2012 summary found (emphasis in the original):
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