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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 96-98

Grooming a competent drug information specialist

Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi - 110062, India

Correspondence Address:
Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi - 110062, India
[email protected]

How to cite this article:
Aqil M, Ahmad S. Grooming a competent drug information specialist. Indian J Pharmacol 2004;36:96-8

How to cite this URL:
Aqil M, Ahmad S. Grooming a competent drug information specialist. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2004 [cited 2023 Sep 23];36:96-8. Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2004/36/2/96/6770

The proliferation of drugs and dosage forms in the pharmaceutical market has led to the need for Drug Information Centers (DICs) to be established in the major hospitals and teaching institutions. Specialized personnel called Drug Information Specialists (DISs) should manage these DICs. A DIS is basically a pharmacist who specializes in the storage, retrieval and dissemination of drug information to all concerned namely, physicians, nurses and patients.
The hospital and clinical pharmacy aspects of the pharmacy profession have gained much popularity and as a result, several institutions have started offering postgraduate courses in these or allied disciplines. Modifications or additions have also been made to the undergraduate pharmacy syllabi to incorporate these aspects. A DIC is an important and essential segment of hospital and clinical pharmacy services and has a direct bearing on patient care. So, a lot needs to be considered as far as pharmacists manning a DIC are concerned.

[TAG:2]The responsibilities of a DIS as mentioned by Hassan[1] are[/TAG:2]
1. Critical selection, evaluation and utilization of the drug literature
2. Providing pharmacotherapeutic information
3. Serving on the pharmacy and therapeutics committee
4. Contribution to drug literature through appropriate participation in research activities which include but are not restricted to pre-clinical and clinical drug studies, surveillance of clinical drug experiences in his/her institution and experimentation in professional services.

We wish to propose the following points for consideration in policy-making vis--vis the selection, training and evaluation of pharmacists as DISs in the DICs:

  Designation Top

Drug Information Specialist (DIS)
DIS (Pharmacology)
DIS (General)

  Job description Top

DIS (Pharmacology)
He/she will respond to the queries on the pharmacological and toxicological aspects of drugs (e.g. mode of action, adverse drug reactions and drug interactions).

DIS (General)
He/she will answer the queries on aspects related to the dosage form (e.g. therapeutic incompatibilities and dosage schedule).

Qualifications (eligibility for training)
DIS (Pharmacology): M. Pharm. (Pharmacology)
DIS (General): M. Pharm. (Hospital Pharmacy/ Clinical Pharmacy/ Pharmacy Practice)

  Training Top

The training methodology will include lectures, seminars, hospital ward rounds and interaction with the medical and nursing staff on therapeutic modalities and an apprenticeship under a qualified DIS.
They must be made to go through a set of intensive courses in the desired subjects which are not covered in their postgraduation syllabi at the advanced levels.

  These courses can include Top

For DIS (Pharmacology)
1. Clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics
2. Drug interactions with drugs, food and various pathological and biochemical tests
3. Basic management of drug toxicity

For DIS (General)
1. Applied human anatomy, physiology and biochemistry
2. Basic clinical pharmacology

Common to both DISs
1. Communication with the general public
2. Applied patient psychology
3. Efficient, time-saving and speedy retrieval of information from various drug databases (online and CD-ROMs).

  Trainers Top

Medical and pharmaceutical specialists (including serving DISs) along with computer applications specialists will be the trainers. The training will be imparted for a minimum of six months.
Training in advanced computer skills including management and utilization of databases will be imparted by computer applications specialists.

[TAG:2]Learning resources[2][/TAG:2]
The learning resources can be broadly categorized into printed texts and CD-ROMs as mentioned in [Table - 1].

  Evaluation of DISs Top

The training of the trainee DISs should be evaluated on the basis of objective type theory papers in each topic as well as on performance in the hospital rounds and a real-time drug information session with a client at a DIC. A standard questionnaire carrying subject-specific questions about the overall functioning and handling of a DIC should also be formulated. The trainees may be evaluated by awarding marks on the basis of performance. A minimum percentage of marks (say, not less than 70%) may be made mandatory and those who fail to achieve the same may be given two chances with a gap of one month and inducted into the DIC only after satisfying these criteria.

  On-the-job training Top

It must not be forgotten that learning is a lifelong process and while dealing with clinical situations, it is absolutely important to keep one's knowledge updated. Hence, the DISs must be made to undergo continuing education programs for a minimum number of hours say, fifty hours a year.
After every five years in the service, their knowledge/progress may be reassessed and only those who qualify must be allowed to continue in the DIC cadre otherwise they may be seconded to teaching or industrial institutions depending on their aptitude.

  Benefits Top

Critical selection, evaluation and utilization of the drug literature is possible.
Medical and non-medical personnel/academicians can get unbiased information on drugs in an efficient manner.
Pharmacy and therapeutics committees can be better served by trained DISs.
DISs can contribute to drug literature through appropriate participation in research activities, e.g. clinical and pre-clinical drug studies, monitoring of clinical drug experiences.

  Conclusion Top

A judicious and rational approach is the need of the hour in order to groom DISs to provide specific drug information. 

  References Top

1.Hassan WE. Hospital Pharmacy. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger; 1981.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Ammerson AB, Clinical drug literature. In: Gennaro AR, editor. Remington: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy. 19th ed. Pennsylvania: Mack Publishing Company; 1995. Vol 2. p. 1837-41.  Back to cited text no. 2    
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