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May 31, 2012

A Prescription for Success: How to Cite Product Information in APA Style

Jeffby Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Dear Style Experts,

I am writing a paper on the use of certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs. I took some of my information from those little package inserts that come in the box or bag when you get a prescription. I’m not sure how to cite it. Help!

—A Frustrated Pharmacologist in Philly


Dear Frustrated,

Fear not! We can solve this citation conundrum with our four favorite questions: Who? When? What? Where?

Let’s say you’re exploring treatments for head lice and need to cite the pharmaceutical insert for Ulesfia lotion.

  • Who is responsible for the content of the package insert? The distributor is listed on the insert as Shionogi Pharma, so we’ll put that in the author position (in accordance with our principle of “cite what you see”).
  • When was it made? The date on the insert is 2010, so that goes in the date position.
  • What is the document called? The title at the top of the insert (Highlights of Prescribing Information) is not too informative, but together with the name of the product, it should do the trick.
  • Where did it come from? The publisher and author of the package insert are the same, so we’ll use the author’s info in the publisher position.

And here is your reference:

Shionogi Pharma. (2010). Ulesfia lotion: Highlights of prescribing 
    information. Atlanta, GA: Author.

Text citation: (Shionogi Pharma, 2010)

If you retrieved the prescribing information from the manufacturer’s website (which also provides printable coloring pages of “Louie the Louse” to keep your kids occupied during the 10-min application process), you would cite it like this:

Shionogi Pharma. (2010). Ulesfia lotion: Highlights of prescribing 
    information. Retrieved from http://www.ulesfialotion.com/pdf/     Ulesfia_Prescribing_Information.pdf

Text citation: (Shionogi Pharma, 2010)

However, if your interest in pediculicides were purely academic, you might have downloaded the product insert from the FDA website, in which case you would cite it like this:

Shionogi Pharma. (2010). Ulesfia lotion: Highlights of prescribing 
    information. Retrieved from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/     cder/drugsatfda/index.cfm

This technique can be applied to citations for any kind of product information, including package inserts for small appliances, hand tools, and adhesive tiles.

 

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