Q: What does MedShadow Foundation do and why is it important?
A: MedShadow Foundation is an online resource that educates patients to be proactive about the medications they take and inquire in advance about the side effects of the medications prescribed to them. Readers are encouraged to ask deeper questions of their physician, pharmacist or health care provider, examine the pros and cons of prescription drugs, and if appropriate, explore other options such as alternative treatments or behavioral changes. MedShadow Foundation uses its website and various social media platforms to gather and post timely and useful articles and news information about medical conditions, medicines’ side effects and alternative therapies. While we recognize that medications save lives and that many are absolutely necessary in treating chronic illnesses and in managing life-and-death situations, they are sometimes over-prescribed. Accurate and complete information on side effects is also severely lacking. We hope to help fill this information void and encourage patients to do a risk/benefit analysis of the medications they are prescribed and take a more proactive role in their own health.
Q: Who is behind MedShadow Foundation?
A: Suzanne Robotti founded MedShadow Foundation in 2012 after two major health issues drove her to become engaged in patient advocacy. Robotti’s mother, like millions of other women in the 1950s and 1960s, took the prescription drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), which was thought to prevent future miscarriages. The drug was widely used despite earlier publication of a study that linked DES to reproductive organ malformation and even cancer. DES was eventually taken off the market in 1971. When Robotti reached childbearing age herself, she discovered she was infertile due to DES exposure. This prompted her to join DES Action, a patient advocacy group. In 2010, her son’s physician prescribed Ritalin for his attention deficit disorder (ADD), but was unable to explain the medication’s side effects. Robotti was concerned about the long-term effects of this stimulant on her son’s developing brain. These two experiences prompted Robotti to form MedShadow Foundation as a means of bringing the issue of medication side effects into the public discourse.
Q: Where does MedShadow Foundation get its information?
A: The MedShadow Foundation’s staff researches topics related to side effects using top primary and secondary news sources. We work with veteran health reporters to provide timely articles on important medical topics. We follow hundreds of top health organizations and writers on Twitter and Facebook and use various Analytics tools to gauge reader interest in topics we cover. News information is updated daily and comes from a wide variety of sources including daily briefings from the Association of Health Care Journalists, Medscape, MedPage, Gupta Guide, Drugs.com, along with such highly regarded publications as Forbes, The New York Times, The Atlantic, USA Today and The Boston Globe, among others.
Q: What topics does MedShadow.org cover?
A: MedShadow’s founder, Suzanne Robotti, writes a weekly blog on a wide range of health topics, from the value of the Choose Wisely campaign that questions unnecessary medical procedures, to the need for more information on the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy. Sign up to receive Su’s blog here.
Our feature stories run the gamut from the best treatment plans for asthma, allergies and ADHD, to the side effects of steroids, testosterone and chemotherapy, to the pros and cons of medical marijuana, e-cigarettes and vitamin D. Our stories on alternative therapies include well-researched articles on acupuncture, yoga and exercise along with a series on Food as Medicine. We also publish print and video interviews with medical experts and First Person blogs—personal stories from our readers and writers regarding their experiences with side effects of medications. Sign up to receive our weekly news recap here.
Q: How can I participate in MedShadow.org?
A: We love hearing from our readers. There are several ways that you can participate. Feel free to comment on our feature stories and blog posts. Email us by using our contact form. If you have a compelling first person story you would like to share with the MedShadow community, email us at MedShadow@MedShadow.org and put First Person in the subject line. Please consider following us on Twitter (@Med_Shadow), liking our Facebook page or connecting with us on LinkedIn and Pinterest.