Drugwatch Editorial Policy

Drugwatch’s editorial policy outlines the process we take to ensure all content published on the site is accurate, objective and trustworthy. Our mission, vision and duty to our readers guide our published content. Our policy provides information on our editorial team, our professional experts and the guidelines for the types of content we publish.

The Drugwatch editorial team fulfills the public trust and consumers’ expectations by creating content of the utmost integrity and quality, and this is our promise to our readers.

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 by all members of the Drugwatch editorial team and our expert contributors.

While Drugwatch’s content is accurate, fact checked and sourced from medical and legal experts, it is not a substitute for medical or legal advice.

Top law firms in mass tort litigation, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. and Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC, sponsor and fund Drugwatch.com. This allows Drugwatch to provide its services free of charge — no one has to be a client of its sponsors to receive assistance from the Drugwatch team.

When Drugwatch visitors call the phone number listed on a drug or device page or fill out a free case review form, representatives from our legal partners will connect them with the appropriate legal professional.

Drugwatch has no knowledge of discussions between its sponsors and site visitors and does not have access to any materials provided by visitors to its sponsors.

While Drugwatch’s sponsors fund the site, they do not control its content. The opinions of Drugwatch’s writers and experts are not necessarily those of our sponsors. The Drugwatch Editorial Team chooses the topics it covers and remains responsible for the integrity, accuracy and quality of the site’s content.

The Editorial Team

The Drugwatch editorial team understands that pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices and procedures can be beneficial and even life-saving. However, in some rare cases, they can also cause serious harm. Risk information can be difficult for the average consumer or health care professional to find, and manufacturers may overemphasize the benefits and downplay the risks of a drug or device.

Drugwatch writers and editors strive to empower consumers by providing accurate information to help them work with their health care providers and make educated choices about their health care.

The Drugwatch writing staff acts with integrity and compassion. They are career journalists and medical writers who take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. This means that they strive to remain objective about the risks and benefits of prescription drugs and medical devices.

Information about the side effects and risks comes from reputable sources, such as peer-reviewed medical journals, published clinical trials or FDA-approved drug labels. In addition to reputable medical information sources, they gather their information from 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

A Drugwatch expert or contributor can be a person who is an 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’s practice to pay experts for their contributions, though there have been cases in which consulting fees have been paid in exchange for experts’ services.

Experts may contribute to the site by reviewing medical or legal pages, by providing information and quotes for articles or writing guest content.

Drugwatch edits guest 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 freelance and noncompete agreements and submit a 1099.

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

Drugwatch medical and legal experts are respected, highly qualified professionals in their field, either medical or legal. The Drugwatch editorial team reviews experts’ resumes and credentials, including education, formal training, awards won, memberships in professional associations and reputation among clients and peers.

The team also conducts a telephone interview with each expert. During the phone call, both sides can ask questions and determine whether the relationship is a good fit.

To ensure the quality and accuracy of its medical content, Drugwatch also partners with board-certified physicians and pharmacists from independent review organizations: Physicians’ Review Network, Inc. and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Drug Information Group.

Experts interested in being contributors can reach Drugwatch’s Managing Editor, Emily Miller, by email at emiller@drugwatch.com. They can also reach Drugwatch through email, phone or social media.

Drugwatch’s patient and advocate experts are considered “everyday experts.” Their personal experience with prescription drugs and medical devices provides valuable insight and firsthand knowledge. Some have formed patient support groups and have spoken at U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee meetings. Their work has been instrumental in changing laws and FDA regulations to improve patient safety.

With some exceptions, patients and advocates are not formally trained medical or legal professionals. Their personal stories are purely anecdotal and should not be considered medical or legal advice.

Beyond Side Effects

Drugwatch’s “Beyond Side Effects” section of the website is dedicated to amplifying the voices of patients and their families. “Beyond Side Effects” posts may be in the form of an article written by Drugwatch or a Drugwatch Podcast.

Patients in “Beyond Side Effects” have unique life experience that makes them “everyday experts.” They provide insight, compassion and humanity to others who were affected by prescription drugs and medical devices. However, these personal accounts are anecdotal and are not intended to diagnose, treat or offer medical advice on any health condition.

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 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 remaining anonymous as a measure to protect that person’s privacy.

If a patient consents to have their story published on Drugwatch, the writer will interview the patient and may ask for medical records or other information to verify the patient’s diagnosis and story. This information is only for verification purposes and remains private.

Before publishing the content, Drugwatch allows the source to review the content and offer corrections. Drugwatch must get approval from the source before publically releasing a story on the site.

In some cases, Drugwatch will publish a first-person account written by a patient. 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 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

The Drugwatch Podcast is not a live broadcast but a pre-recorded segment available on Drugwatch.com.

Each podcast begins and ends with a disclaimer informing the audience that the 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.

Podcast guests have included medical and legal professionals, authors, patients, filmmakers and industry regulators. 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 with 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, for time constraints and for extraneous syllables like “um.” Edits should not be made to misrepresent facts or distort context.

A full transcript of each podcast appears with the final published audio on Drugwatch.com, and Drugwatch writers may quote featured guests in other related articles on the site.

Anyone interested in being a podcast guest can contact Senior Writer Michelle Llamas by email at mllamas@drugwatch.com.

News Posts

Drugwatch news articles are 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.

All news posts include the author’s name and list of sources. Rarely, writers or editors may update news posts after the original publication date to correct erroneous or outdated information. The reason for the change or update will be noted on the post.

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, podcasts, 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 that 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

Drugwatch operates independently of its sponsors. 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 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; and 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.

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 Emily Miller at emiller@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.

Drugwatch’s design team also creates original graphics and images for its pages. These are the property of Drugwatch and should not be reproduced without permission and attribution.

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.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

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