February 23rd, 2011
Americans & Canadians Get Different Drug Info Online
If you live in the US and search Google for a prescription drug, you’re likely to be directed to the web site run by the National Library of Medicine. But Canadians will be directed to Wikipedia for generic meds or sites run by drugmakers when scouring for a brand-name treatment, according to a study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.
Why? One reason is a partnership between Google and the National Institutes of Health, which returns NIH-sponsored drug info pages more prominently for searches in the US. The study found that US patients using Google would most often encounter NIH-sponsored pages, hosted by the National Library of Medicine, as the top result. But US residents using Bing and Yahoo, or Canadian residents using Google for searches were led to Wikipedia or industry-sponsored sites most of the time.
The study authors say this is problematic because Wikipedia content can be changed by users and company sites may not contain entirely objective info or readily display certain data.