Find Reliable Information about Medicines

About Medicines
There are so many drugs and medications on the market today that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Advertising suggests that you “Ask your doctor whether these drugs are right for you.” You may think a certain drug is just what you need. But is it? How and where can you find reliable information about medications and drugs?

Hands on Health-SC provides links to several drug-information resources that are accurate and reliable. Using these resources is a simple matter, if you start with basic information. This includes the drug’s trade name or generic name, and/or the condition to be treated.

Here are some sample questions and types of questions you may have, with suggestions for finding answers.

My doctor wants me to take Lipitor to lower my cholesterol. He said not to eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice anymore. Where can I find more information about Lipitor?

This question about Lipitor is the easiest type to answer because you already know the name of the drug you are looking for. You can search for a drug by its trade name or generic name. A generic name for a drug is its scientific name. For example, the generic name for Advil is ibuprofen.

A good place to start is at Medline Plus Drug Information. This site uses information from two separate drug resources: MedMaster™ and the USP DI® Advice for the Patient® . Drugs are listed alphabetically.

To find Lipitor, click on the K-L box in the table on the page. Scroll down to Lipitor and select it. There are three entries. Choose the MedMaster entry. You will learn that the generic name for Lipitor is atorvastatin. You will learn about the drug, its possible side effects, and how to store it. Read all sections carefully. This entry does not mention a problem with grapefruit. Read the last entry from the USP DI. The information is similar to the MedMaster entry, except that it includes a Proper Use of This Medicine section. There, you will find information about the restriction on grapefruit.

Other sites provide general information about drugs when you know the name of the drug. One such site is RxList. To find information at this site, type Lipitor in the search box and click on Go. A screen will appear offering the option of searching for a Lipitor FAQ (frequently asked questions) in English or Spanish. The FAQ includes the caution about eating grapefruit while taking this drug.

Another choice is the People's Pharmacy. Choose the Drug Library from the box on the left side of the screen. The Drug Library includes only top selling drugs in this country. Lipitor is one of the most-used drugs, so information about it is included. This site encourages people to send in questions.


My brother-in-law has lung cancer. Are there any new drugs being developed to treat it?

The question about new drugs to treat lung cancer is more difficult because you don’t have a drug name to start with. New Medicines in Development is a site that can help with this question. Choose the Explore New Medicines in Development Database. Choose lung cancer from the Search by Disease pull-down menu. Click on Continue. Several new drugs in development for the treatment of lung cancer are listed.


My aunt has diabetes and is taking a pill for it. Don’t you have to take insulin shots for diabetes?

Answers to questions about diabetes medications are available at Medicines for People with Diabetes . There is a section, Do I need to take diabetes medicine?  This explains the two types of diabetes and the medications for each type. This site has a question-and-answer format. You cannot search for drugs by name.


My doctor wants me to take a blood thinner. Why should I take a blood thinner?

The question about blood thinners is answered at Heart Information Center: Index of Medicines . A section entitled Medicines for Cardiovascular Disease lists different types of heart disease drugs. The site presents questions and answers about each type of drug, including blood thinners. Several reasons that blood thinners might be prescribed are listed.


Written by: Marcia Reinhardt, M.S.L.S.
Last Modified: Thursday September 26, 2019 9:09 AM