The Dynamic Information Base

The information available to guide drug therapy is continually evolving. Among the available sources are textbooks of pharmacology and therapeutics, medical journals, published treatment guidelines, analytical evaluations of drugs, drug compendia, professional seminars and meetings, and advertising. A strategy to extract objective and unbiased data is required for the practice of rational, evidence-based therapeutics. Patient-centered acquisition of relevant information is a centerpiece of such a strategy. This requires access to the information in the practice setting and increasingly is facilitated by electronic availability of information resources including the primary medical literature (available via PubMed, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi).

Depending on their aim and scope, textbooks of pharmacology may provide, in varying proportions, basic pharmacological principles, critical appraisal of useful categories of therapeutic agents, and detailed descriptions of individual drugs or prototypes that serve as standards of reference for assessing new drugs. In addition, pharmacodynamics and pathophysiology are correlated. Therapeutics is considered in virtually all textbooks of medicine but often superficially. The PDR offers industry-collated data and can be used for indication and dosing information. Industry promotion—in the form of direct-mail brochures, journal advertising, displays, professional courtesies, or the detail person or pharmaceutical representative—is intended to be persuasive rather than educational. The pharmaceutical industry cannot, should not, and indeed does not purport to be responsible for the education of physicians in the use of drugs.

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