Drugwatch Editorial Policy

The core purpose of Drugwatch is to provide consumers with information necessary to make informed decisions about their health care and to empower them to take action in the event they are harmed by a medical product.

Preamble

The Drugwatch editorial team fulfills the public trust and consumers’ expectations by creating content of the utmost integrity and quality.

All information published on Drugwatch.com is provided free of charge. The content is accompanied by the author’s name, contact information and a short biography as well as a list of sources so the public knows who wrote the content and that the information came from reliable sources.

Drugwatch declares these principles as the foundation of Drugwatch reporting and writing and encourages their use in its practice by all members of the Drugwatch editorial team.

The Editorial Team

The Drugwatch editorial team understands that pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices and procedures can be beneficial and even life-saving. However, they can also cause serious harm and may lead to death. Sadly, manufacturers may mislead consumers about the safety of their medical products, depriving doctors and their patients of the ability to fully assess the benefits and risks of a particular medical decision.

Drugwatch content writers strive to empower consumers to make educated choices about their health care and their legal options by providing information that is accurate, thorough and helpful. A Drugwatch content writer acts with integrity.

Members of the Drugwatch writing staff are career journalists and medical writers who take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. They conduct themselves in a professional yet compassionate manner. They gather their information from peer-reviewed medical journals, trusted news outlets, government reports, court records, and interviews with experts and patients.

Currently, no member of the Drugwatch editorial team is a doctor or lawyer and therefore cannot offer medical or legal advice. Content writers can, however, connect patients to resources, such as support groups, petitions, and experienced drug and device lawyers. Drugwatch writers are encouraged to broaden their knowledge through online certification programs as well as by attending medical, legal and writing conferences.

The Drugwatch editorial team is a resource for journalists and researchers, providing original, comprehensive content as well as access to expert sources and patient stories. In-house writers and researchers are also available for interviews with members of the media.

Drugwatch content writers:

  • Verify information before posting it
  • Use original sources when possible
  • Collect, update and correct information throughout the life of a page
  • Always attribute and identify sources clearly
  • Amplify the voices of patients
  • Serve as watchdogs over government and hold those in power accountable
  • Use sensitivity in dealing with patients and their loved ones
  • Promptly answer questions about accuracy and clarity
  • Never deliberately misrepresent facts, distort context or oversimplify
  • Never plagiarize

Topics Covered on Drugwatch

Drugwatch offers reliable information on the severe or life-threatening risks associated with certain drugs, medical devices and procedures. It also reports on the latest drug and device-related news.

Drugwatch provides educational content on U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) processes; drug and device recalls; side effects and health conditions; lawsuits and settlements; and health information specific to a person’s gender, age, health status and sexual orientation.

Drugwatch Audience

Drugwatch’s audience includes, but is not limited to:

  • People who were injured by a drug, medical device or procedure
  • People whose loved ones were injured by a drug, medical device or procedure
  • People who are considering a medical procedure
  • People who are curious about pharmaceutical drugs available or prescribed to them
  • People who want to learn more about the FDA and pharmaceutical companies
  • People who want to know more about certain health conditions
  • People who want to find out their legal options
  • People who want to file a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company
  • People who want to take action to mitigate problems related to the pharmaceutical industry
  • People who want to sign a petition or join a support group
  • Members of the media, researchers and experts

Drugwatch Contributors

A Drugwatch contributor can be a person who is expert in his or her field, such as a medical professional or attorney — or someone who has firsthand knowledge of the topic at hand, such as a patient or a patient’s loved one.

Opinions of Drugwatch contributors are their own, based on their own knowledge and experience, and do not automatically convey the perspective of Drugwatch. It is not Drugwatch practice to pay experts for their contributions, though there have been cases in which consulting fees have been paid in exchange for experts’ services.

From the Experts

Drugwatch aims to publish a “From the Experts” post once a month, usually during the last week of every month. “From the Experts” content is content created by expert contributors. It may be presented as a written story, video or podcast.

Expert contributors should be experts in their field, either medical or legal. A member of the Drugwatch editorial team reviews experts’ resumes and credentials and conducts a telephone screening interview with each expert. During the phone call, both sides can ask questions and determine whether the relationship is a good fit. Experts interested in being contributors can reach Drugwatch through email, phone or social.

Drugwatch provides the topic the experts will cover and any other information Drugwatch would like to be included in the piece. Word count for expert articles is typically 600 to 1,000 words. Podcasts run about 15 to 30 minutes, and videos are usually edited to be three minutes or less.

Drugwatch edits the content for grammatical errors and may choose to re-organize the content for clarity. Drugwatch may also edit for Search Engine Optimization purposes. Prior to publishing, Drugwatch will send the edited copy to the expert for approval.

Although Drugwatch does not typically pay experts for their contributions, there have been exceptions. Experts who are paid to produce articles and who write for Drugwatch on a regular basis will be asked to sign a freelance agreement and a non-compete and to submit a 1099.

Doctors or public figures are exempt from non-competes. Other guest contributors may receive a 1099 and freelance contract depending on how many pieces Drugwatch anticipates receiving from them.

Beyond the Side Effects

Drugwatch strives to publish a new “Beyond the Side Effects” post twice a month. This section of the website is dedicated to amplifying the voices of patients and their families. “Beyond the Side Effects” posts may be in the form of an article written by Drugwatch or a Drugwatch Podcast.

The Drugwatch editorial team connects with patients or their loved ones through social media or email. Oftentimes, a patient or a patient’s family member will reach out to Drugwatch directly. A Drugwatch writer can be the one to initiate a conversation if he or she is interested in sharing a person’s story on the website.

Drugwatch also features calls to action on its “Thank You” page and its “Beyond the Side Effects” page, which allow a visitor to the site to share a story with the Drugwatch editorial team. Anything shared with Drugwatch is private.

Drugwatch does not publish submitted stories without first obtaining permission from the source via email. A member of the Drugwatch editorial team will contact someone who has submitted a story and ask for more information as well as consent to publish the story. That person will be given the option of using his or her initials or a fictitious name as a measure to protect that person’s privacy.

Before publishing the content, Drugwatch allows the source to review the content and offer corrections. Drugwatch must get approval from the source before making a story live.

In some cases, Drugwatch will publish a first-person account written by a patient, but this is rare. On occasion, Drugwatch writers may ask if someone who shared a story with Drugwatch would be willing to speak with a member of the media.

“Beyond the Side Effects” contributors may provide photos to publish with their stories, depending on their privacy requirements. Drugwatch is committed to protecting privacy and publishes an extensive privacy policy on its website.

Drugwatch Podcast

Drugwatch aims to publish a Drugwatch Podcast once a month, usually around the 15th of every month. This is not a live broadcast but a pre-recorded segment.

Podcasts usually run 15 to 30 minutes and include calls to action roughly every 10 minutes. Calls to action must be relevant to the content. If Drugwatch legal partners are taking cases on the topic discussed, the call to action will include a phone number for the legal partners.

Each podcast begins and ends with a disclaimer informing the audience that a Drugwatch Podcast does not purport to provide medical or legal advice and the opinions of the host and guests are not necessarily those of Drugwatch.

Topics covered are at the discretion of the Drugwatch Podcast host and usually relate to drugs, medical devices or procedures covered on Drugwatch.com. The Drugwatch host is a member of the Drugwatch editorial team and will provide guests questions prior to the recording of the podcast.

Each guest must consent to being recorded before the host begins recording the interview and again once the recording has started. Drugwatch will edit the podcast for clarity, to fit time constraints and for extraneous syllables like “ums.” Edits should not be made to misrepresent facts or distort context.

News Posts

Drugwatch aims to publish two to three news articles each week. News articles should be relevant to the topics covered on Drugwatch.com and should support the brand’s mission as a watchdog of the FDA and advocate for consumers.

A news post is typically 600 to 800 words in length and contains at least two subheads to break up the content. News posts must also include the publication date, author’s name and a list of sources.

Meta Data

All content on Drugwatch.com is accompanied by a meta title that supports the topic of the page. The Meta title is almost always different from the page heading.

Content also includes a Meta description, which is information that assists people in selecting the page from a listing of search results. The Meta description should accurately reflect the page topic.

Author credit is displayed at least once on every page. The credit includes a short biography and a link to the author’s biography page.

Tone and Engagement

Drugwatch aims to be an authoritative voice in the health information industry while providing highly personal and engaging content. The Drugwatch editorial team sets out to ensure all content is clear and easy to comprehend. Drugwatch.com should appear practical, serious and academic, but also supportive, helpful and compassionate.

The Drugwatch editorial team should include videos, podcast, quizzes, polls and other engaging elements whenever possible. Drugwatch writers welcome emails, tweets, Facebook messages and phone calls from visitors to the site and vow to respond quickly and to the best of their abilities.

Visitors to Drugwatch.com are invited to share Drugwatch content on social media and with their communities. Any republishing of Drugwatch content should be properly attributed to Drugwatch, preferably with a link to the original content.

Quotations

Anyone who visits Drugwatch.com should be able to assume that every word between quotation marks is what the speaker or writer said. However, Drugwatch does “clean up” quotations if the grammar is unsuitable and may omit extraneous syllables like “um.” The Drugwatch editorial team is permitted to adjust spelling, punctuation, capitalization and abbreviations within a quotation for consistent style.

A change should not be made if it would distort the context or misrepresent facts. Whenever an edit is made, both the Drugwatch writer and editor must determine the intent of the original speaker or writer has been preserved.

Attribution

Drugwatch’s preference is to do its own reporting and to verify facts through its own methods. However, when a Drugwatch content writer uses facts gathered by other organizations, such as newspapers and magazines, Drugwatch attributes them. Drugwatch does not treat other people’s reporting as its own.

Editorial Control

Wilson and Peterson, LLP is Drugwatch’s sponsor; however, the site operates independently of the firm. Drugwatch does not accept money from advertising, and advertisers have no influence over the content. Instead, editorial control primarily remains within the Drugwatch team.

Drugwatch content writers are encouraged to pitch new story ideas.

Drugwatch’s managing editor will approve an idea so long as it supports the Drugwatch:

  • Mission — to keep consumers safe from dangerous medical products
  • Vision — to serve as a watchdog over the government and pharmaceutical companies
  • Messages — to educate consumers on drugs, medical devices and procedures and help them make informed decisions about their health care; to provide a platform for people to share personal stories about the harm caused by drugs, medical devices and procedures; to empower people hurt by dangerous drugs, medical devices and procedures to take legal action, report side effects, connect with support groups and petition for change

All content published on Drugwatch.com undergoes a thorough fact-checking and editing process to ensure it is accurate, reliable and the best product for our audience. The content must present information in an original manner and be relevant, interesting and useful to the audience. Drugwatch’s director of marketing signs off on all content before it can be published on Drugwatch.com.

Accountability and Corrections

Drugwatch writers hold themselves accountable for the accuracy of their work. Drugwatch recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all factual errors. If Drugwatch identifies a factual error, it will correct the error. Visitors to Drugwatch.com can let staff know of a possible inaccuracy by sending an email to Managing Editor Kevin Connolly at kconnolly@drugwatch.com.

Photography

Drugwatch obtains its photos from public records or from iStock, an online, royalty free stock photography provider. Drugwatch only uses photos that fall under creative commons licenses and does not use photos labeled “not for profit.”

Drugwatch will not take photos from a person’s social media account without permission. It will only publish photos of patients, experts and other Drugwatch sources or contributors when given permission in writing.

Privacy

Drugwatch is dedicated to protecting visitors’ privacy. In order to use Drugwatch’s services, visitors voluntarily provide the information requested on the site such as name, address, telephone number and email address. This information is only used to provide visitors with the service they requested, such as a free case review.

Although Drugwatch may use a visitor’s email address to send news or information about Drugwatch services, the site will not share any personal information with a third party unless the visitor authorizes it. For more detailed information, please review Drugwatch’s privacy policy.

Social Media

Drugwatch employees are allowed to associate themselves with Drugwatch when posting on social media, but they must clearly brand their online posts as personal and purely their own. Drugwatch should not be held liable for any outcomes the employees’ personal social media posts may generate.

Content pertaining to sensitive Drugwatch information should not be shared on social media. Disclosing information that is financial, operational and legal in nature as well as any information that may violate the trust of patients who confide in Drugwatch is prohibited.

Employees should observe proper copyright and reference laws when posting online. Drugwatch does not tolerate dishonorable content such as racial, ethnic, sexual, religious and physical disability slurs.

Linking Policy

Drugwatch encourages outside organizations and nonprofits to link to Drugwatch if they are high authority, reputable, health or legal in nature, and share the same vision and goals as Drugwatch.

Drugwatch may link out to government websites, nonprofit pages, medical journals, support groups and other verified sources. Drugwatch does not link to competitor websites or sources that lack credibility.

*Drugwatch’s editorial policy was drafted using principles adopted and published by reputable media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists and The New York Times.

Last updated August 22, 2017

Author

emiller@drugwatch.com
407-955-4198

Emily Miller holds five Health Literacy certificates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of Florida. She is a member of The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Technical Communication. Emily was diagnosed with a chronic illness as a child and has firsthand experience with many of the topics she writes about as a member of the Drugwatch team. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported on health and legal news for reputable organizations, including the South Florida Sun Sentinel, San Antonio Express-News, UF Health News and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. She draws on her background as both a patient and a journalist to help readers understand complex health and legal topics.