MedicineNet Pocket Drug Guide for PalmOS & Pocket PC

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Beiks, go to the web site
Requires: Any Palm OS Hardware, Palm OS 3.5 or higher - OS 5 Enhanced; BDicty viewer; Resolutions Supported: Sony Hi-Res (320x320), Sony Hi-Res+ (320x480), Palm Hi-Res (320x320), Palm Standard (160x160), Handera Hi-Res (240x320)
MSRP: $9.95 (if you already own BDicty); $17.95 (including BDicty)

I have stood at the Pharmacy counter in my local drugstore, listening patiently (with only half my attention) to a nice Pharmacist intent on explaining the vagaries of some prescription handed to me by my doctor. I don't get viruses or infections very often, but when I do I'm rarely in a mood to listen to a dissertation by the pharmacist. All I want to do is get home, take the dope, get into bed and watch the Scarface DVD in DTS 5.1 glory ("I like you to meet mah leetle fraynd!"). It's only after the movie is over that I begin to wonder exactly what it is the doctor prescribed.

The MedicineNet Pocket Drug Guide is designed to work with Beiks' BDicty reader program. Like the other Beiks dictionaries and lexicons, the drug guide consists of clearly validated information stored in the PalmOS database format (a pdb file). BDicty is available in PalmOS and Pocket PC versions along with all compatible databases produced by Beiks.

The MedicineNet Pocket Drug Guide is a new handheld version of MedicineNet, Inc.’s doctor-produced informational database of 400+ monographs covering over 1,000 generic and branded names of the most popular U.S. medications (which also means this guide is perfectly usable throughout Canada as well). It's a reasonably comprehensive resource for medical students, allied health professionals, you and me. There are just over 38,000 definitions of terms and references.

The comedian Jackie Mason used to joke that everything we eat or do is killing us - according to the medical profession. In his stand-up routine Mason would say that the doctors constantly tell us that too much sugar will kill you, too much salt will kill you, too much red meat will kill you and even coffee is no good - but if you drink enough coffee, at least you can lie awake at night and watch yourself go! At least with the MedicineNet Pocket Drug Guide you can look up whatever it is the doctor prescribed, stay informed, thoroughly educate yourself about all the possible side effects and drug interactions, and generally try to get 'one-up' on the doctor. If, at the end of the day, you turn yourself into someone who is more aware of the real effects of whatever prescription medications you're ingesting, you'll be able to ask more effective questions whenever you see your doctor.

Using the database is simple. After HotSyncing the database to install it on your PDA, launch BDicty then select CommonMeds from the drop-list. You can perform keyword searches to quickly view drug information written and edited by MedicineNet’s pharmacists and physicians. Topics covered in each drug monograph include: generic name, brand name, drug class and mechanism, preparations, storage, what the drug is prescribed for, dosing, drug interactions, pregnancy and nursing mothers, and side effects

In actual use, the guide functioned flawlessly and contained all of the drugs I searched for including Nexium, Diovan, levothyroxine sodium, levopoda-carbidopa, famciclovir and about three dozen others (I was shocked - when I polled some friends for the names of drugs they were using - at just how many drugs they were using!).

Cons: No scroll bar in the drug list - you're restricted to the scroll arrows. We noted some spelling mistakes in the definitions. For example, levothyroxine sodium is described at the "(man-made) version of the principal thyroid hormone..." - the word should be "principle".

Pros: You get a lot for $9.95. The definitions are thorough. Something to keep you company when the last drug explanation your doctor gave you was obliterated from your memory when the pharmacist handed you the bottle of pills and demanded $450 (or something equally outrageous). Whether you're curious, have a specific need or actually work in the medical profession, the MedicineNet Pocket Drug Guide is a definite must-have. Recommended.

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