Date: 03 May 2013

The continuing challenge of providing drug information services to diminish the knowledge—practice gap in medical practice

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Information must be collected, evaluated and utilized to support every qualified activity. Medicine, with a written scientific tradition stretching back more than 2,000 years, is no exception. Here, we discuss a number of important items associated with the establishment of a drug information centre run by clinical pharmacologists and information pharmacists, serving a broad demand, mainly among clinical specialists. The working methods include a professional literature search, critical evaluation of the material, writing a structured answer, quality control, feedback to the inquirer and storage in a database which is publicly available. One can foresee even more complex systems wherein a number of active and specialized databases communicate to provide relevant advice and support at the point of care, supplying information on drug recommendations, reimbursement, environmental aspects, antimicrobial resistance, pharmacogenetics and adverse effects, and linked to a list of prescribed drugs for the individual patient. This will be possible in both rich and poor countries through the application of modern and developing information technology. However, research on the best and safest methods of such decision support systems will be needed to ensure that they really do improve the quality of drug prescribing and use.