How Reliable Is the Information on WebMD?

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While there are mixed opinions about whether the content on the WebMD website is reliable, one thing is certain: the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that the content is sound, since the federal agency teamed up with WebMD in 2008 to deliver consumer health information. The collaboration involved the creation of a resource on the WebMD website where consumers can directly access information on FDA regulated products and FDA Consumer Updates to be included in "WebMD The Magazine."

Many doctors trust the information from WebMD. The 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health Point-of-Care Survey, conducted by IPSOS, showed that 42 percent of physicians frequently get information to treat and diagnose conditions in patients from free online services, such as WebMD. A total of 34 percent said they only occasionally looked to these sources for health information.

There are those who have dissenting views though. In 2011, an article in the New York Times magazine was critical of the health site and accused it of being synonymous with "Big Pharma Shilling" because of its connections to pharmaceutical companies. The article pointed out that consumers seeking advice on the site were frequently met with scare tactics. This climate of fear can cause hysteria and persuade consumers to buy medications from one of the drug companies to cure their ailment.