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Apple asking app developers to cite sources of medical information

As iOS devices are increasingly used both by physicians and patients, Apple is apparently tightening regulations on developers that make health minded apps for those devices, requiring now that they fully indicate the sources from which they are drawing medical information.

Apple has reportedly begun sending notices to developers of medical apps containing references to drug dosages, informing those developers that they should provide detailed information on the sources from which they gathered information on dosing. This according to iMedicalApps, which posted one such notice on Wednesday.

Apple is apparently rejecting or postponing certain medical apps on the basis of "incomplete metadata" until the developers are able to fully detail the sources they used to generate certain advisory content in their apps. Developers will not have to submit new binaries in order to gain approval, but complete information on sourcing is required.

The move demonstrates the degree of seriousness with which Apple is addressing the potential for misinformation in medical apps. Apple's iPads and iPhones are becoming increasingly popular among both physicians and patients, and that fact has led to an explosion of medicine-related apps on the iOS platform.

The move may also inhibit plagiarism within the App Store, which is especially a problem among medical apps. The September issue of the British Medical Journal told the tale of three physicians accused of fully plagiarizing the Doctor's Guide to Critical Appraisal in their app. The doctors had titled their software "Critical APPraisal" when it was released in 2011.