Objective: To determine the informational content of nine pharmaceutical company websites about the antidepressant medication marketed by the company.
Method: A structured, explicit review of materials found on pharmaceutical company websites about nine antidepressants for which no generic drug is available was conducted using eight popular search engines. The accessibility of these websites was also determined using these search engines.
Results: Of 72 searches (one for each drug using each search engine), 46 yielded the pharmaceutical company website within the top 10 links. When outliers were removed, the company website was found in the top 10 links for 45 of 56 searches. All of the websites contain information of an advertising and emotive nature. Of the nine company websites, three contain anecdotal information; only two mention electroconvulsive therapy and four mention other types of drug therapy; and only one mentions the tradenames of other drugs. None of the websites mention drug costs, only one has efficacy statistics for the company's drug and, although all of the websites mention at least one adverse effect of the company's drug, only one lists percentages for adverse effects.
Conclusion: The information about drugs for treating depression on pharmaceutical company websites aimed at consumers is limited and makes it difficult for consumers to compare drugs.