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Press Release

Observational Study Finds Errors in Online Opioid Drug Information, Potentially Risking Patient Safety

Purdue Pharma L.P.
Posted on: 17 Oct 16

Purdue Pharma L.P. today announced the results from an observational study that highlights misinformation found in drug summaries of online drug information compendia (ODIC) for select opioids. Although ODIC is valuable and presumed to be correct and complete, this study showed that ODIC may contain inaccurate information, potentially jeopardizing patient safety.1

Healthcare professionals and consumers refer to ODIC to learn about prescription medications, including opioid analgesics. Given the growing reliance upon drug summaries provided by ODIC and heightened safety concerns about opioids, it is essential that the information is correct, complete, and up-to-date.

The observational study, “Caveat emptor: Erroneous safety information about opioids in online drug-information compendia,” evaluated the accuracy and completeness of drug summaries in seven leading ODIC for Purdue’s opioid analgesics by comparing them to their FDA-approved Full Prescribing Information (FPI). The seven ODIC included: Epocrates; Facts & Comparisons: A to Z Drug Facts; Gold Standard: Clinical Pharmacology; MedlinePlus; Medscape Reference; UpToDate; and WebMD.

“With the significant risks associated with opioids, it is essential that ODIC provide current, accurate, and complete drug information to help support clinical treatment decisions,” said Amarita S. Randhawa, PharmD, co-lead study author, and Senior Manager of Medical Services at Purdue Pharma L.P. “While compendia drug summaries are informative, easily accessible, and user friendly, this study shows that they contain errors, which highlights the need for HCPs and consumers to use multiple sources when seeking drug information.”

Between 2011 and 2013, ODIC drug summaries for Purdue's opioid analgesic products were systematically reviewed for misinformation and requests for content corrections were then submitted to ODIC. Content-correction requests were retrospectively categorized and classified, and then, at least two months following submission, the same ODIC were then reexamined to assess the degree of error resolution.

A total of 859 errors were identified, with the greatest percentage in Safety and Patient Education categories. Across the seven compendia, the complete or partial resolution of errors was 34 percent; therefore, nearly two thirds of the identified errors remain.

Given the misinformation identified in this study, HCPs and consumers seeking reliable, on-label drug product information should consult multiple sources, including a product's FPI, which has been approved by the FDA and is housed in the National Library of Medicine’s DailyMed. In addition to ODIC and a product’s FPI, another useful resource includes medical information departments within pharmaceutical companies that are composed of healthcare professionals, who are readily-available to provide accurate, balanced, product-specific information.

Complete study results were published online in the most recent issue of the Journal of Opioid Management.

About Purdue Pharma L.P.

Purdue Pharma is a privately-held pharmaceutical company and is part of a global network of independent associated companies that is known for pioneering research in chronic pain and opioids with abuse deterrent properties. The company’s leadership and employees are committed to serving healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers by providing quality products and educational resources to support their proper use. Purdue is engaged in the research, development, production and distribution of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines and hospital products. With Purdue’s expertise in drug development, commercialization, and life-cycle management, the company is diversifying in high-need areas to expand through strategic acquisitions and creative partnerships. For more information please visit or follow the company on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


1. Talwar SR, Randhawa AS, Dankiewicz, EH, et al. Caveat emptor: Erroneous safety information about opioids in online drug-information compendia. J Opioid Manag. 2016 Jul/Aug.

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Last updated on: 17/10/2016

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