Drug Information Resources

Drug information is stored in a variety of media including textbooks, journals, newsletters, microfiche, optical disks and computer systems. The information regarding the drugs can be broadly classified into three categories

1. Primary Resources
Primary literature consists of research studies or clinical experience which has not been previously published. This includes clinical trials, short reports, case reports and letters to the editor which describe clinical events such as adverse drug reactions or unexpected clinical outcomes. Examples of journals that publish primary literature include:
  • Annals of Internal Medicine,
  • Lancet,
  • The New England Journal of Medicine,
  • Journal of American Medical Association.

  • Provide the most current information
  • Share opinions with other health professionals
  • Keeps abreast of professional news
  • Keeps up with the new developments in pathophysiology, diagnostic agents and therapeutic regimen

  • No guarantee of accuracy
  • Inadequacy of articles are common

2. Secondary Resources
Secondary resources provide an overview of previously published work, and include indexing and abstracting services of the primary literature. Examples of secondary resources include abstracting services like;
  • International Pharmaceutical Abstracts
  • The indexing services BIOSIS previews
  • ClinAlert
  • Embase
  • Iowa Drug Information System (IDIS) and Medicine. An indexing system provides only bibliographic information that is indexed by topic and provides the original abstract or full text with no interpretation. On the other hand, an abstracting service provides content by interpreting the original reports and creating summaries based on the abstracting service’s editorial guidelines.

  • Valuable tools for quick and selective screening of the primary literature for specific information, data, citation and articles.
  • Provide sufficient information to serve as references for answering drug information requests

  • Reviews a finite number of journals
  • Usually describe only articles and clinical studies
  • Abstracts are general interpretations

3. Tertiary Resources
These consist of general literature including textbooks and full-text computer databases.
Examples of tertiary resources include
  • United States Pharmacopoeia Drugs,
  • Remington’s Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Merck Index,
  • Red Book,
  • Martindale

Tertiary resources are the most commonly used sources of information because they are easy to use, convenient, concise, and compact.

  • Provide easy and convenient access to a broad spectrum of related topics
  • Background information on drugs and diseases available

  • The gap between recent developments and actual publication of books
  • Omission of pertinent data
  • Misinterpretation of literature possible

4. Internet
The Internet expands the ability to search for therapies that have been recently published or discussed in the media. An Internet search may be required for the following: company-specific information, issues currently in the news, alternative medicine, or U.S. government information. The most popular Web browsers are Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet
Explorer. A variety of search engines, software tools for searching the Internet, have been developed. General search engines (AltaVista, Google, Yahoo, Ask, Dogpile) attempt to index as much of the Internet as possible.

  • Information obtained may not be peer-reviewed or edited before release.
  • Information may be only as reliable as the person who posted it and the users who read and comment on its content.
  • A website should be evaluated by its source (author) of information. The name, location, and sponsorship should be disclosed.

Drug Information Centre can provide information regarding drugs, their toxicity, and treatment round the clock. In the absence of any available treatment, the centers give only first-aid advice and recommend symptomatic treatment. Answering enquiries, or dealing with
requests or information forms an integral part of the daily routine for all pharmacists. For this purpose Drug information request forms are available in the DIC, which is filled up by the pharmacist who is in charge.

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