ISU Headlines

College of Pharmacy’s Drug Information Service providing answers to drug-related queries

Posted March 7, 2007

The Idaho Drug Information Service at Idaho State University’s College of Pharmacy is working tirelessly to answer drug-related questions for health-care professionals and the general public of Idaho, the nation and world.

This unique service, which is funded completely by the College of Pharmacy, is designed to ensure proper drug information is available free of charge to all of Idaho’s health-care professionals and the general public, though they answer questions from all over.

Located on the top floor of Idaho State University’s Eli M. Oboler Library, the staff of the Idaho Drug Information Service, or IDIS, answers five to 20 phone calls per day, in addition to responding to multiple e-mails, some of which are from overseas. The unique mission of the IDIS is to provide health-care professionals with information tailored to a specific patient’s needs.

“It’s a great service and I’m really impressed with the rapid responses I get,” said Dr. Nino Germain, a Pocatello child psychiatrist who frequently uses the service to obtain answers regarding drug interactions and unusual side effects.

According to Dr. Kevin Cleveland, co-director of IDIS and clinical assistant professor with the ISU College of Pharmacy, most users of the service inquire about drug identification or adverse drug reactions. Some less common questions involve anything from pharmacology and kinetics to herbal and complementary medicine. Other questions are completely new to IDIS staff and require further research. IDIS draws on its access to numerous online medical and pharmaceutical databases in addition to standard medical and pharmacy texts to assist with the research involved in answering such questions.

“You get to learn a lot about strange and oddball things you wouldn’t otherwise learn in a pharmacy,” Cleveland said. “It’s one of the greatest things about working here.”

According to Dr. Catherine Heyneman, co-director of IDIS and associate professor of pharmacy at the ISU College of Pharmacy, the IDIS has its busy and slow seasons. “We tend to get more calls in the winter when people are sick, or when special interests come up, such as bird flu or the Vioxx® withdrawal from the market,” she said.

In addition to answering drug-related questions, the service actively contributes to pharmacy journals and is involved in pharmacy research projects and presentations. This month Cleveland and IDIS staff members will travel to the American Pharmacists Association’s annual convention in Atlanta, Ga., to present their findings on which databases are most effective in identifying unknown drug products.

IDIS also strives to teach drug information to students of the College of Pharmacy and provide information and articles to the faculty and students.

The service, which began in the late 1950s, is staffed by faculty and students of the College of Pharmacy and also serves as a training site for a residency in drug information.

The Idaho Drug Information Service does not provide physician referrals or answer questions the poison control center would normally handle. Callers with questions regarding potentially life-threatening toxicities or overdoses are referred to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center’s number at 800-860-0620.

Anyone interested in learning more about the IDIS or in using its services can call (208) 282-4689 or 1-800-334-7139 within the state of Idaho, or submit questions via e-mail to idis@pharmacy.isu.edu.