The National Library of Medicine (NLM), with support from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has released a beta version of Pillbox, a resource intended to enhance patient safety via an identification and reference system for solid dosage medications. http://pillbox.nlm.nih.gov
Pillbox combines pharmaceutical data from the FDA and NLM with high resolution images, enabling rapid identification of unknown medications. This system is designed for use by emergency physicians, first responders, other health care providers, Poison Control Center staff, and concerned citizens.
Pillbox allows users to identify solid dosage medications based on several physical characteristics: imprint (characters or number printed on a medication), shape, color, size, and scoring. Users are shown thumbnail images of possible matches which are continually updated as additional information is entered. Once a medication has been identified, further information is provided, including brand/generic name, ingredients, and DEA schedule. Links to NLM drug information resources are also offered.
NLM has made a great effort to verify the authenticity of each image. However, the Pillbox images are not part of the Structured Product Label (FDA-approved drug label) and have not been verified by each manufacturer. For this reason, Pillbox is not currently intended for clinical use.
This fall, NLM and the FDA will initiate a pilot program working with manufacturers to have images submitted for inclusion with the FDA-approved drug label. This will increase the number of images in Pillbox and help to create a resource appropriate for clinical use.
Pillbox Beta has two versions: the Adobe Flex version is designed for rapid identification of an unknown medication; the Pillbox screen-reader version has advanced search functionality, including drug name.
Colette Hochstein, D.M.D., MLS
National Library of Medicine
Division of Specialized Information Services
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Room 515
Bethesda, MD 20892