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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2009

Book Reviews

Drug Information: A Guide to Current Resources

Vicki J. Killion
Head, Health and Life Sciences Division
Purdue University Libraries
West Lafayette, Indiana

Copyright 2009, Vicki J. Killion. Used with permission.


Drug Information: A Guide to Current Resources. 3rd ed. Bonnie Snow. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2008. 546 p. ISBN 978-1-55570-616-6. $195.00 Paperback.

Once again, Bonnie Snow has produced one of the most comprehensive compilations of drug information resources available to information professionals, students, and practitioners. Revised, updated, and reorganized, this third edition continues to provide the guidance needed to select and utilize the appropriate resource on drug therapy, drug development or pharmaceutical marketing that one has come to expect from Snow's extensive experience as an information specialist and continuing education instructor in the biomedical arena. Since the first edition's publication in 1989, many pharmacy librarians have relied upon the Guide as the primary bibliography on drug information.

Focusing on the professional literature and its use by health science information providers and researchers, consumer-oriented content has been eliminated from this edition. Two new sections addressing search strategies to use when locating information about regulatory issues have been added as the result of frequent requests for assistance: animal welfare and pharmacovigilance (post-marketing surveillance). And while approximately half of the new drugs are introduced in the United States, the increasing demand for information about and availability of non-U.S. medications is addressed in this edition with more resources identified and organized into specific subject areas.

In Chapter one, "Guide to the Guide," Snow identifies potential users and describes how each may benefit from this resource. Since the material is organized so that each section builds upon the preceding, a sequential reading of each chapter would be most valuable to the information seeker/provider not familiar with the specialized terminology, the drug development process, or the resources needed during a product's life cycle. More experienced users might use the table of contents to quickly locate the pertinent resources needed to answer specific questions. The index also contains hundreds of keywords and synonyms embedded in the individual resource annotations.

The format and annotation content for the references are also described in the first chapter with three examples detailing availability in various formats and platforms. Snow's caveat that no one source is comprehensive and that successful information providers must first master the "name game" of distinguishing among types of drug names and then matching them with the "best" resource leads to one of the most informative chapters for any one providing assistance in drug information -- drug nomenclature, its relationship to the drug development process, and the impact it has on effective search strategies and retrieval. Chapter three follows with the background information, i.e., the descriptions of the drug approval process in the United States and the drug registration process in Europe, necessary for understanding and using the resources in the remaining chapters.

Chapter four introduces the general categories into which drug information questions are typically classified and in which the books and databases annotated in the Guide are organized. The structure of scientific literature is described and a helpful checklist for evaluating the tertiary sources (drug compendia, reference books, textbooks) is included.

Chapters five through ten consist of the annotations of resources in pharmacology and therapeutics, adverse drug reactions and interactions, drug analysis and formulation, online bibliographic databases, competitive intelligence, and pharmaceutical business. An extensive glossary of terms and a key to the acronyms and abbreviations used within complete the Guide.

Despite the high price, this is an essential resource for anyone seeking to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to provide accurate drug-related information efficiently and effectively. It serves as a course textbook, a reference book, a self-study guide, and a requisite resource for any health sciences library.

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