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March 03, 2020

Amazon's Alexa can now answer common medication questions

The smart speaker can list the side effects and interactions of various drugs

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Amazon's Alexa can now answer common medication questions Hamburgfinn/Pixabay

Amazon's Alexa can now answer basic questions about common medications, thanks to a partnership with First Databank. Among the questions users can ask: "Alexa, is Advil safe for pregnant women?" The virtual assistant is used in conjunction with Echo speakers like the one above.

Want to know the difference between Advil and Tylenol? Just ask Alexa.

Amazon's virtual assistant can now provide specific information about medications, including side effects and interactions, thanks to a partnership between Amazon and First Databank, a drug and medical device database company. 

Among the common questions that users can ask: "Alexa, what is Tylenol?" and "Alexa, what type of drug is ibuprofen?" Or, "Alexa, does Zoloft interact with Aleve?"

The drug information is prepared by First Databank clinicians and will be updated regularly. Alexa can respond in either English or Spanish. 

Last year, Alexa became HIPPA compliant, enabling certain medical information to be shared while still protecting patient privacy. Through partnerships with other health care companies, some Alexa users have been able to check the status of a prescription delivery or connect to their glucose monitor for blood sugar readings.

"We are thrilled to be working closely with Amazon on this unique consumer use of our drug knowledge," Bob Katter, president of First Databank, said in a statement. "We are proud to bring this essential component of our drug databases directly to consumers through Amazon's now-ubiquitous and helpful voice-activated technology."

He added that the partnership will make it easier for people to get helpful information about side effects and drug interactions. The information will complement the advice given by their physician and pharmacist.

"Ultimately, we believe that more informed consumers will lead to improved medication adherence, the reduction of adverse drug events, and better patient outcomes," he said.

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