This article was published on February 7, 2010

These search engines could save your life, or not.

These search engines could save your life, or not.
Charles Knight
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Charles Knight

Charles Knight is the editor of The Next Web Search. Charles Knight is the editor of The Next Web Search.

Pillbox_homepage_barI just did an informal home test of three pill search engines: MedHelp,, and PillBox. The concept is the same for all three, you find out that a person (or in our case a beagle) has taken some pills, but you have no idea what the drug is, so you bring up one of these search engines, either at home or in the ER, and you try to describe one of the remaining pills.

You take a pill and type in any markings on the pill, then the color(s), then the shape, and the size (length) and hit the search button. In my test, I had a blue oblong pill with 44-473 inscribed on it, and a pink and white oval pill with Adams on one side and 600 on the other. I’m sorry to report that I could not identify either pill on any of the aforementioned sites.

Clearly pill identification has a way to go. When I looked at the packaging, one was Mucinex D and the other didn’t have a brand name, but at least it did list the ingredients. The problem, of course, is that most people load up their pill boxes for the week and the original bottles with the labels may be in some drawer or closet where your rescuer may not be able to find them.

Having the label, I could then do a more conventional text search:

Mucinex D extended release tablets contain a combination of guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine. Guaifenesin is an expectorant. It helps loosen congestion in your chest and throat, making it easier to cough out through your mouth. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the…

If you keep them in plain sight, your children or pets might get to them. So what’s a mother to do? Well, I am not a HCP, but I would keep a list of your medications in your wallet or purse and maybe taped to the underside of your pill box or on your fridge. You could even draw images of the pills, but whatever you do, please do it now – before there’s an incident.

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