The massive increase in the volume of pharmaceutical and related medical literature led to the establishment of the 1st Drug Information Centre in 1962 at the University of Kentucky (Barkholder, 1983). This served as a prototype for later organisations.
Pharmacists in hospitals providing information on drug-related problems have confined themselves to only the pharmaceutical aspects of drugs like dosage and formulation or the physical and chemical properties of drugs.
Specialization in drug information resulted from the concept of the pharmacists’ involvement with patient-related aspects of therapy as well as product information in the UK. To support this role, drug information centres were established in London and Leeds in 1970. Presently many hospitals with clinical Pharmacy services have drug information as a support service to the pharmacist visiting wards. It can be said that drug information has evolved out of the clinical pharmacy.
Scope of Service
Although hospital-based drug information services are normally available to all health care professionals including doctors, technicians, pharmacists, nurses, biochemists and microbiologists, whether in the hospital or the community it is the clinician who tends to be the largest beneficiary either directly or indirectly.
The main function of a drug information centre is to provide a bank of information on drugs for the clinician and the Clinical Pharmacist. In fact it acts as a support service to the pharmacist visiting wards. The drug information centre monitors adverse drug reaction and report to the Committee on Safety of Medicines.
It participated in the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee which provides objective reports to serve as the basis for discussion and implementation of the decision. Advantageous to the pharmacist because it provides a way for him to influence the choice and conduct of drug therapy since such committees seek to rationalize hospital medication by selecting certain products within the group. (Production of Hospital formulary).
It serves as a valuable information bureau for literature search to solve patient related problems.
Drug information service extends its scope to the teaching of both undergraduates and as part of continuing education of pharmacists and possibly other members of the health care team.
Role of the Pharmacist
The Drug Information Pharmacist finds himself at the interface of a vast amount of knowledge residing in the literature on the one side and the person needing information for safe and effective treatment of patients on the other side.
He collects and assesses information on one hand and communicates the relevant information to the appropriate user.
To fulfil this role the pharmacist must develop and maintain a comprehensive database by abstracting and indexing available information services and be familiar with and able to retrieve information from commercially available services in order to answer queries or enquiries.
He collates and evaluates material for dissemination to the health care professionals. He, therefore, has to know their area of expertise and interest.
The pharmacist as a drug information specialist is able to consult with the clinician on all aspects of medications and drug therapy giving accurate evaluated advice as free from bias as possible.
© The Author(s) 1988. Published by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.