Pharmacotherapy on the Web

The Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy 2001;7:500. 

Pharmacist's Letter, Ottawa Valley Regional Drug Information Service, HerbMed, National Center for Infectious Diseases Antimicrobial Resistance, Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment

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Pharmacist's LetterOttawa Valley Regional Drug Information Service, HerbMedHerb Research Foundation, National Center for Infectious Diseases Antimicrobial Resistance, Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment

Name of site:

Pharmacist's Letter

Type of site: Drug therapy /Trends in pharmacy practice
Authoring organization: Therapeutic Research Centre
Sponsors: Subscription-based.
Of particular interest to: Pharmacists
Completeness Score (/5) 5
Credibility Score (/5) 4.5
Usability Score (/5) 4
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): This site provides concisely summarized excerpts on new developments in drug therapy and trends in pharmacy practice.
Commentary: The summaries are quite concise with the option to view the full documents from which the summaries are extracted. Information is synthesized from a variety of major journals including JAMA, NEJM, Lancet, Archives of Internal Medicine, etc. Primarily pharmacists as well as physicians write the documents. There is no pharmaceutical industry sponsorship of this site. This is a subscription-based service and members get a monthly newsletter in addition to online access.  One year subscription costs US$85.  A good, user friendly site to keep in touch with new developments in drug therapy and pharmacy practice. Well referenced to make it easy to find original articles that summaries are based on.
URL of site: http://pharmacistsletter.com
Reviewed by: Saira Ebrahim, B.Sc.(Pharm)

Name of site:

Ottawa Valley Regional Drug Information Service

Type of site: Drug information and product availability database.
Authoring organization: Ottawa Regional Valley Regional Drug Information Service & Ottawa Hospital, General Campus Drug Information Service
Sponsors: as above
Of particular interest to: Pharmacotherapy practitioners in Canada
Completeness Score (/5) 4.5
Credibility Score (/5) 4.5
Usability Score (/5) 5
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): Allows users to quickly locate drug information and keeps practitioners up-to-date with the status of newly marketed or recently discontinued health products in Canada.
Commentary: This site provides free access to two up-to-date user-friendly drug databases. The "Drug Information Database" contains indexed material from 24 pharmacy/medical journals and 26 pharmacy newsletters, and provides links to electronic journals when available. The "Product Availability Database" provides practitioners with information on the current status of recently marketed or discontinued products (medications, medical devices, test kits) in Canada. When information is not available in the database, links to Health Canada’s Drug Product Database and Notice of Compliance websites have been provided.

The site also has 16 “Pharmacy Related Bookmarks” with a good selection of interesting websites categorized under each. The bookmarks provide quick access to effective resources in areas including Canadian and American pharmacy associations, drug interactions, herbal/natural medicines, and medical specialties.

This site offers bilingual (French and English) service and is maintained by staff drug information pharmacists. There is no sponsorship from pharmaceutical companies, however the site does advertise the sale of its Intravenous Drug Therapy Manual and its Specialty Drug Information Residency position.

URL of site: http://www.asksam.com/ovrdis
Reviewed by: Karen Tulloch, B.Sc.(Pharm)

Name of site:

HerbMed

Type of site: Herbal database
Authoring organization: Alternative Medicine Foundation
Sponsors: Alternative Medicine Foundations, a non-profit organization
Of particular interest to: Health professionals who deal with patients taking herbal medications.
Completeness Score (/5) 4
Credibility Score (/5) 3
Usability Score (/5) 5
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): A searchable herbal database which provides information on many herbs such as evidence for activity, contraindications, adverse effects and drug interactions with hyperlinks to the scientific data (from medline) regarding the use of herbs.
Commentary: The site is simple to navigate. One can search the site or choose from a list of herbs organized by common or scientific name. The site is fast and does not have fancy graphics. Most importantly, readers are able to evaluate the clinical relevance and quality of the studies on herbs themselves.

Although the information provided for each herb could be biased, links to the scientific paper from which they extracted the information are provided for verification.

URL of site: http://www.herbmed.org
Reviewed by: Christine Davis, B.Sc.(Pharm)

Name of site:

National Center for Infectious Diseases Antimicrobial Resistance

Type of site: Comprehensive information about antimicrobial resistance issues.
Authoring organization: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Center for Infectious Diseases
Sponsors: Center for Disease Control
Of particular interest to: Any health care professional or member of the public interested in information about antimicrobial resistance.
Completeness Score (/5) 4.5
Credibility Score (/5) 4.5
Usability Score (/5) 5
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): Reviews current general, technical, clinical, and laboratory antimicrobial resistance issues, and provides useful prevention strategies and education tools for health care professionals and patients to help limit the spread of resistance.
Commentary: This is a comprehensive antimicrobial resistance site for both the health care professional and patient. For the health care professional, there is published data on resistance in health care and non health-care sites, full-text clinical guidelines and recommendations for limiting the spread of resistance, organism-specific technical and laboratory fact sheets, scientific publications, and links to other antimicrobial resistance sites. For the public, there is general information such as prevention tips for the spread of resistance, technical fact sheets, and a glossary of resistance terms. This is a very credible, comprehensive, and useable website. 
URL of site: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.htm
Reviewed by: Victoria Cox, B.Sc.(Pharm)

Name of site:

Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment (CCOHTA)

Type of site: Critical evaluations of health technologies (defined as devices, equipment, procedures or drugs) in Canada.
Authoring organization: CCOHTA
Sponsors: Federal, provincial, and territorial ministries of health in Canada.
Of particular interest to: Pharmacotherapy practitioners, physicians, and health policy-makers.
Completeness Score (/5) 4
Credibility Score (/5) 4.5
Usability Score (/5) 4.5
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): CCOHTA researchers collect, synthesize, and critically evaluate the available information on medical technologies. Efficacy and economic information are considered. Users of the website can peruse this research and make informed decisions about health technologies in Canada.
Commentary: CCOHTA brings a Canadian perspective to health technology assessments.  Registration is free, and will allow the user full access to the publications (searchable and available as PDFs or in print format).
URL of site: http://www.ccohta.ca
Reviewed by: Elaine Chong, B.Sc.(Pharm)

Name of site:

Herb Research Foundation

Type of site: Natural product information site
Authoring organization: Herb Research Foundation
Sponsors: Amway, Rexall, Pharmavite, Celestial Seasonings, Traditional Medicinals
Of particular interest to: Patients interested in Natural Products, or Health Care Professionals
Completeness Score (/5) 2
Credibility Score (/5) 2
Usability Score (/5) 4
Why is it useful? (what will it help me DO?): The site is not very useful to health care professionals.
Commentary: Although many clinical trials, studies and meta-analysis are cited, the evidence seems to be at best tertiary. Given that most articles lack a reference to an author, it is very difficult to determine their credentials, and therefore the credibility of the information.
URL of site: http://www.herbs.org
Reviewed by: D.L. Cecillon. B.Sc.(Pharm)

Copyright © 2001 by the Journal of Informed Pharmacotherapy. All rights reserved.