Drug and Poison Information Services

Drug and Poison Information Services: Drug information services (DIS) are the critically, relevant, and currently examined data on the drug and drug use for a given patient or situation. Many of the organizations run DIS and provide drug information from any place to every kind or group of people. The major goal of the DIS is to improve patient care services and provide unbiased information for various drug-related questions. Employees working in the drug information services are dedicated to providing written or oral information in response to a request from various health care professionals, organizations, committees, or patients about the drugs and their pharmacotherapy. Depending upon the urgency and the prioritization of the requestor for drug information, the expert of DIS estimates the necessary time required to perform the research. There is not any special requirement of licensing or accreditation for the establishment of drug information services. A pharmacist who has a license can establish the drug information service center. The major contribution of drug information services in-patient health care is associated with a significant decrease in the costs of medications, cost of patient care, and prevention of medication error and decreases the patient mortality rates. 

Need of Drug Information Services 

There is vast literature available on the drug and this information is rapidly growing in size and becoming complex day by day due to continuous research on drugs. This drug information is available in various natures i.e. interdisciplinary and interprofessional. In the highly populated country, there is a huge increase in the practice load of patients on the health care professional and there is no or very little time available for health care professionals to go through vast and complex drug literature. In such a situation and this new era, the drug information center is dedicated to the task of providing unbiased and relevant drug information logically. 

Objectives of Drug Information Services 

  1. To participate in undergraduate and graduate teaching programs. 
  2. To develop and participate in research programs. 
  3. To develop educational activities and programs on the appropriate use of drugs for community patients. 
  4. To prepare and distribute drug information bulletin to health care personnel. 

Poison Information Centre 

The Poisons Information Centre (PIC) is a specialized service or center dedicated to involving in providing information on the prevention, diagnosis, and management of poisoning. In most of the developed countries, there is an established facility of the poison control center, analytical laboratory with poison information service, and facility of patient management. In India, the Department of Pharmacology of All India Institute of Medical  Sciences, New Delhi has established National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) in February 1995. On the level of inquiries, this center provides toxicological information and as well as guidance on the management of poisoned patients. The sources of this NPIC are the systematic collection of huge data from worldwide libraries on poisoning, drug reactions, and management. This information service is available round the clock. The poison information center has a great responsibility to provide the training and this service is extending to medical and other health care professionals and the community. 

Poison Control Center (PCC) 

A poison control center is rapid access and immediate medical facility center. This center can provide free and immediate expert opinion on the telephone for assistance and management in case of exposure to poisonous substances. The center also provides information on medicines, domestic products, pesticides, bites and stings, food poisoning, and fumes. 

PCC was established for two reasons: 

  1. To provide rapid access to information. 
  2. To assist with poisoning prevention. 

Composition of PCC: 

1. Pharmacy Team: 

  • Pharmacist specialist trained in poison information. 
  • Pharmacy technicians and students.

2. Medical Team: 

  • Toxicologists have expertization in medical toxicology. 

3. Supporting Team: 

  • People trained by library science with sufficient knowledge of computers. 

Functions of PCC: 

  1. Provision of information and advice. 
  2. Involved in patient management. 
  3. Provide laboratory services. 
  4. Involve in teaching and training to other health care professionals. 
  5. Provide the Toxicovigilance services. 
  6. Assist in the prevention of poisoning. 
  7. Provide the drug information and pharmacovigilance. 

Sources of Drug Information 

It is also indicated by other names such as; medication information, drug information, or drug informatics. Drug information covers the array from identification, cost, and pharmacokinetics to dosage and adverse effects. It also covers the information about the body, health, or diseases to better utilization of the drug information. 


  1. To identify what are the sources of drug information. 
  2. To select the suitable source depending on what type of drug information is needed. 
  3. To discuss the role of electronic media in drug information. 

Types of Sources: 

1. Primary Sources: The primary source of drug information is undertaken by the authors without access by a second party. Such type of source provides current drug information. 

Examples: Articles published in journals (for example: New England Journal of Medical),  thesis, etc. 

2. Secondary Sources: In this source, the originality of drug information has been evaluated by a second party other than the publisher. This type of information is modified and in rearranged form. Examples; review articles such as lexis-nexis, Medline, etc. 

3. Tertiary Sources: In this source, the drug information is collected from primary and secondary sources and organized in a manner to represent a composite of the available information. Examples; Encyclopedia, Dictionaries, text book, guides; official pharmacopeias such as BP, USP, IP, BNF, etc.

Table.1: Sources of Drug Information 

Official CompendiaNon-Official CompendiaOther Sources of Drug  Information
• Pharmacopoeia  (IP, BP, USP).  
• National  Formulary.    
• Physician’s Drug References  (PDR) – USA. 
• Martindale Pharmacopoeia –  Great Britain. 
• Drug indices (CIMS, IDR,  MIMS, Drug Index). 
• Drug advertisement.
• Internet, Medical Rep.    

Computerized Services 

There is an important role of computer services in the basic pharmacy research and the  development of the following clinical pharmacy practices and services: 

  • Patient record Management.
  • Entries of Medication Orders.
  • Patient Medication Profile.
  • Drug Therapy Monitoring and Problem Detection.
  • Record of Drug-Drug Interactions.
  • Record of Adverse Drug Reactions.
  • Pharmacy Automated drug interaction screening (PADIS) system.
  • Inventory control.
  • Medical Research.
  • Computerizing Drug Information System.
  • Teaching Techniques.
  • Building Data Base. 

Patient Record Management: 

Following are the details for the explanation to use of computer services in one of the clinical pharmacy practice services i.e. in management of patient records. 

The clinical computer system must guarantee the database of patient records, which is continuously updated and reproduces the current status of all patients. This updating of patient information is done by assessing the database of the patient admitting department for the recent entries related to new patient admission, discharge of patients, and transfer of cases. Pharmacists need to assess this entry regularly to maintain the patient record up to date. The computer system is also capable producing of other information such as;  present diagnosis report, allergic history, weight and height of patients, the name of the attending physician, and any special note about the patient.

Some Computer Softwares: 

  • MARTINDALEs Extra Pharmacopoeia is now available online.
  • MEDLARs (Medical literature Analysis and Retrieval system).
  • MEDLINE (Medlars Online).
  • NLM (National Library of Medicine).
  • PNI (Pharmaceutical News Index) Contained information or news about devices and health industries. 

In medical research, there are two types of applications of a computers system. One of the major contributions of a computer system is the use of computerized testing equipment such as;  ultra sound and CT scanners, blood chemistry, and gas analyzers; another application in the contribution of data collection, storage retrieval, and research planning and statistics. 

Use of Computers in Clinical Research: 

A computer system is also used in the presentation of information other than text format such as the use of multimedia in the presentation of information. The types of format used in multimedia are images, sounds, graphics, animations, and videos. 

There is a great role of computers in pharmacy training and education such as;  interpretation of X-RAYS, ECG, and other diagnostic images. Various standards concerning patient cases can be represented on multimedia and can be used to teach the students. 

Clinical pharmacists and students also use other resources such as; websites, E-Books, and  Wikipedia to gather information and data. 

There is the use of recent information techniques called computer simulations which are also helpful for clinical pharmacists and students for the study of complete physiological and pharmacological processes. 

Information Storage and Retrieval System (ISAR) 

It is an organized process of collecting and classification of data so that the information can be easily located and displayed on request. The use of computers and data processing techniques has made this possible to assess a large amount of information for academic,  government, and commercial purposes. 

Types of Storage Media: 

  • Hard Drive
  • Floppy Disc
  • CD and DVD
  • USB Flash Drive 

Major Components of Information Retrieval: 

  • Database
  • Search Mechanism
  • Language
  • Interface

Major Retrieval Techniques: 

1. Basic Retrieval Technique: 

  • Boolean searching 
  • Case sensitivity searching 
  • Truncation 

2. Advanced Retrieval Technique: 

The above techniques have been used to gather information from different sources and store it safely. This information can also be retrieved easily and effectively upon request are referred. Collecting information from different resources and storing it in either a storage room  (maintaining paper records) or the storage devices such as; hard disk, DVD, a CD is called information storage. This information may be in any audio form, video, text format. 

Information Retrieval System is principally emphasis on the electronic searching and retrieving of old documents. In this process, there is searching, fetching, and serving of the information to the requested users. An information retrieval system is capable of performing operations like; methods for adding documents to the database, modifying or deleting them from the database, methods for searching and serving appropriate documents to the users. 

Information Retrieval is the activity of obtaining relevant documents based on user needs from the collection of retrieved documents. Following are the purpose of ISAR:

  • A writer presents a set of ideas in a document using a set of concepts.
  • ISAR system assists to match the ideas of the writer’s which is expressed in the user’s requirement or demand.
  • ISAR system serves as a bridge between the information generator and the users of that information.
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