Medical Practice

The regional drug information service: a factor in health care?

Br Med J 1978; 1 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.6115.766 (Published 25 March 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;1:766
  1. F N Leach

    Abstract

    Most regional health authorities throughout the United Kingdom have established drug information units to provide health service staff with a wide range of information about drugs and drug use. The units, which are staffed by drug information pharmacists, provide their service mainly by answering inquiries, although some disseminate information more positively through lectures and bulletins.

    An analysis of inquiries received by regional information units during 1976 showed that most were submitted by hospital doctors or pharmacists; comparatively few were received from general practitioners. Topics of inquiry included adverse effects of drugs, source of supply and identification, current treatment, dosage, route, precautions, and pharmaceutical problems such as stability or formulation of drug preparations. A more detailed analysis of the inquiries received by the North-western Regional Drug Information Service at Manchester over three years showed that the number of inquiries gradually increased and that more were received from general practitioners after a programme of lectures had been introduced to tell them about the service. The North-western service also received more requests from hospital pharmacists than other units, though many originated from clinicians.

    The regional drug information units consulted widely with clinical and other specialists in answering questions, but about a quarter of all inquiries were pharmaceutical, relating to stability and incompatibility. A multidisciplinary approach therefore seems necessary to provide a comprehensive and advisory drug information service.

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