Where is MedlinePlus in Google Drug Search Results?
Perhaps my fellow medical librarians recall this differently, but it seems to me that when I do a Google search for a drug, I used to get MedlinePlus drug information as one of my top results. This suited me well, given that MedlinePlus is a National Library of Medicine resource, isn’t trying to sell me anything, and can be relied upon generally for quality information. FDA news and alerts and other expected resources also used to rank fairly high (in my recollection).
Now, when I do drug name searches, I’m getting drug homepages (which I expect), along with things like rxlist, drugs.com, Wikipedia (not bad, generally, but not my last stop if I want to be sure to know about potential interactions, side effects, new warnings, etc.), YouTube, and even about.com (which I’d rather go without information than look at) in the first page of results, but no MedlinePlus. No FDA, either. Obviously this varies by drug – a search for ciprofloxacin did get me MedlinePlus and CDC near the bottom of the first page of results. Similarly in a search for clavulanic acid, MedlinePlus did appear in the first page, and so I wondered if I’m getting the junkier results just for the more common drugs/less technical names. In other cases I clicked through several pages of results without ever seeing a MedlinePlus, FDA, CDC or other semi-reputable source of health information.
Now, I know that Google’s search results technically aren’t returned in order of quality or by lack of omnipresent drug company advertising enticing you to try the latest wonderdrug. I was surprised, though, to do a quick drug search and not find MedlinePlus, FDA, and the like high among the results. It seems to me that the top results in Google drug searches used to generally be for more high quality, reliable, less commercial sites, but that this is not so much the case as present. Anybody else noticed this? Am I imagining things? What’s changed?