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The Best Free Drug Reference Apps

The most common medical application used on the PDA or Smartphone is the drug reference. The paper Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) has been replaced with electronic versions available on the internet and now on the PDA. We will review the best free programs that answer frequent bedside drug questions such as the proper dosing, pharmacology, adverse side effects, drug –drug interactions,  pregnancy safety and formulary issues. The smartphone/PDA having the most drug database options is the iPhone/iTouch/iPad followed by the Android platform. There are some limited programs for BlackBerry, WebOS and Windows platforms. All of these products reside on the PDA for use when internet of cell service is unavailable and are wirelessly updated.

Epocrates Rx – at http://www.Epocrates.com is one of the most widely used PDA drug databases. The free version has pill pictures and a unique easy to use pill identification program. There is a dose calculator, selected formulary lists and a robust drug-drug interaction checker. There are over-the-counter (OTC) medications included but herbals are only in the paid subscription version. Drugs can be listed by generic or trade name or by class. Formularies can be selected online and downloaded to your PDA.  It is available for all PDA platforms

Medscape Mobile – at http://itunes.apple.com/app/medscape/id321367289?mt=8  is a combination medical reference and drug database with over 7,000 prescription, over-the –counter, and herbal drugs. There is a robust drug-drug interaction checker supporting multiple entries. The drugs are listed by class and there is dosing interaction, side effect, pharmacology and cost information. There is no automatic drug dosing calculator or formulary information.  It is available for iPhone/iTouch /iPad  Android and Blackberry platforms.

Micromedex Drug Information – at http://www.micromedex.com/products/mobile2/ is a extensive drug database with detailed information including Pharmacokinetics, monitoring, toxicology and clinical teaching pearls. There is no dosing calculator, formulary information or drug-drug interaction checker. This is currently only available for iOS with an Android version in the works.

Mobile PDR at http://www.skyscape.com/mobilePDR/  is the electronic version of the paper book published annually. There is a search function and pill pictures. There is no dosing calculator, herbal information, formulary information or drug-drug interaction checker This is available to practicing PA’s with a DEA or NPI number and it works on the Skyscape PDA platform for most devices.

Harrisons Practice in the Mobile Merck Medicus Suite at http://www.merckmedicus.com/pp/us/hcp/hcp_mobile_medicus.jsp has a Drug monograph section that has excellent information provided by Lexi Drugs. One can link to the drug information from the clinical disease article or go directly to the drug monograph. There is no dose calculator, formulary information or Drug-drug interaction checker. This works on most PDA platforms.

Skyscape RxDrugs and CheckRx at http://www.skyscape.com/estore/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductId=2641 and http://www.skyscape.com/estore/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductId=1189 available for  iPhone/iTouch/iPad, Android and BB. These are two separate programs, RxDrugs with all the drug information and CheckRx is a checklist of drugs to run an interaction profile. The program will tell you there are interactions but will not tell you the details of what happens. This requires an additional look-up in another reference.

Monthly Prescribing Reference - eMPR at   http://www.empr.com/physician-assistant-edition/section/1217/. Has over 4,000 drug monographs. The drugs are organized by body systems. Drug information is limited  for fast look-ups. There is a search tool, and some medical equations but no dose calculator, formulary information or drug-drug interaction checker. It is available for all PDA platforms.

Shots 2011 Immunization schedule from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine is a graphical flowchart of the recommended  immunization schedule from birth to adulthood. There are catch up plans and details about each vaccine and combinations. This is freely available for most PDAs at http://immunizationed.org/ShotsOnline.aspx  

Fingertip Formulary at http://www.fingertipformulary.com  has extensive  drug formulary information listed by state. There is a free PDA version fro most platforms and there is extra drug monograph information for licensed providers.

Summary

Epocrates Rx is the quickest dose look-up with a dose calculator,  formulary lists and durg-drug interaction checker. You will not be able to see if herbal medications interact with the free version. It has the best pill identification program,. The best interaction checker that include herbals is Medscape mobile. The most extensive drug information can be found in Micromedex, Harrison’s Practice, Medscape Mobile and RxDrugs. A summary table is provided. 

Feature

Epocrates

Medscape

Micromedex

mPDR

Harrisons

RxDrugs

eMPR

Rx monograph

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

OTC

X

X

X

 

X

 

X

Herbals

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Calculator

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures

X

 

 

X

 

 

 

Formulary

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interactions

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

Pill identify

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources