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Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, the reader will be able to:

  • Define the term “drug information” and how it has changed into what is now contemporary practice.

  • Identify the drug information services provided by pharmacists and drug information specialists.

  • Describe the skills needed to perform drug information responsibilities.

  • Identify major factors that have influenced the ability to provide drug information.

  • Describe how the expanding integration of information technology has changed the methods of searching, analyzing, and providing drug information to patients and health care professionals.

  • Describe practice opportunities in drug information for pharmacists.


Key Concepts

  • imageDrug information may be patient-specific or developed for a given patient population.

  • imageDrug information provision has evolved over the past 60 years as focus has shifted to development of safe and effective medication-use policies and processes, advancements in pharmacy informatics, focus on formulary management, evidence-based practice, drug shortages, and incorporation of new environments of care.

  • imageWith electronic medical records and order entry systems, drug information specialists can take a leadership role in incorporating automated interventions and decision support that improve safety and provide education at the point of prescribing.

  • imagePharmacists providing drug information must keep abreast of advancements in information technology.

  • imageBiomedical literature evaluation skills are essential for all health care professionals.

  • imageLeadership and career opportunities exist in a variety of settings for a drug information pharmacist.

The United States health care system continues to undergo important changes, which are offering challenges and opportunities for health care professionals, insurers, caregivers, and consumers. Several factors are driving these changes, including regulations in health care (e.g., value-based care, rising prescription drug prices, and expanding health coverage options), continued pressure to reduce health care costs, and need to improve efficiency, quality, and safety of care.1,2 The appropriate use of medications continues to be an essential element in this process because it represents a significant portion of the health care dollars spent in the United States.

Total health care spending in the United States in 2018 was $3.6 trillion. Pharmaceutical expenditures grew to $507.9 billion in 2019, representing a 5.4% increase from 2018.2 Within nonfederal hospitals, prescription expenditures approached $36.9 billion in 2019.2 In clinics, the prescription expenditures were even higher at $90.3 billion, which represents an increase of 11.8% from 2018.2 The use of “specialty drugs,” which are high-cost medications used to treat complex chronic conditions such as hepatitis C, cancer, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and pulmonary arterial hypertension, have contributed greatly to the increased prescription expenditures especially in the clinic setting.

The availability of patient-, disease-, and medication-specific information, and a knowledgeable decision-maker are integral components of providing a system that supports the safe and appropriate use of medications in contemporary practice. Pharmacists can serve as leaders in the development of safe and effective medication-use policies and processes, selection of drug ...

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