• The learning objectives for this module are:

    • Differentiate between types of resources available to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.
    • Describe general electronic and hard copy resources available to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.
    • Explain the function and use of bibliographic databases, including Medline® and Embase®
    • Outline search strategies and functionalities in bibliographic databases.
    • Identify drug information databases to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.
    • Identify factors to consider in assessing the quality of internet resources available for accessing medicines information.
    • Outline other resources available to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.

    Accreditation number for this module: S2019/91

    This activity has been accredited for 1.5 hours of Group-1 CPD (or 1.5 CPD credits), suitable for inclusion in an individual pharmacist’s CPD plan.


    The program addresses pharmacist competency standards, including:


    Standard 5.3.1 Identify information needs and resource requirements

    Standard 5.3.2 Retrieve relevant information/evidence in a timely manner

    Standard 5.3.3 Apply research evidence into practice

    (National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia, 2016)

  • Almost all general references are available in electronic format, with a few still available in hardcopy.

    Australian product information

    Product information is a collection of information about a medicine that is required to be provided by the manufacturer or sponsor of the product for registration in Australia. It is intended to provide assistance with prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines.

    The Australian product information is available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website, or in a range of electronic product packages provided by MIMS or AusDI. The TGA usually has the most recent version of the product information. MIMS is available in several formats; eMIMS is updated monthly and there is an annual printed edition. MIMS and AusDI product packages may include a range of extra functions such as:

    • Drug interaction checkers
    • Disease management guides
    • Tablet identification tools
    • Consumer medicine information leaflets
    • Calculators
    • Search functions (e.g. gluten-free medicines, suitability of drugs in sport)
    • Optional add on resources such as Don’t Rush to Crush and IM Gateway.
    Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH)

    Published annually in hard copy and electronic format (the eAMH is updated in July each year), the AMH is a concise source of independent medicines information. It is based on best available evidence, expert opinion and consensus. Each chapter provides therapeutic information, drug class information and individual drug monographs. In addition to medicines that are registered and marketed in Australia it includes some unregistered medicines.  

    Therapeutic Guidelines

    Therapeutic Guidelines are a collection of independent, evidence-based, consensus treatment guidelines intended to assist Australian prescribers. The guidelines include practical advice, specific treatment and management instructions and may include off-label use of medicines and unregistered medicines.  The guidelines are now produced in electronic format only with the exception of the Antibiotic Guidelines.

    Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook

    Originally a small formulary, the APF has evolved into a reference relevant to broad aspects of pharmacy practice and academia. The formulary is still used for preparing extemporaneous products and for dispensing and advice to consumers (i.e. Cautionary and Advisory Labels). It contains limited clinical and therapeutic information, counselling guides, health information, physicochemical data and standards and guidelines. The APF is published every 3 years and available in hard copy and electronic formats, with the electronic version updated more frequently.

    Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference

    Published in the UK, Martindale aims to be an evaluated source of drug information for practitioners working throughout the world. It includes drug monographs, brief drug treatment and disease reviews and a useful section to help you identify overseas products. It is a good place to start if you are looking for information about unregistered drugs or ‘off-label’ use of drugs. It is available by online subscription through Medicines Complete or Micromedex. The electronic version is regularly updated and the hard copy is published approximately every three years.

    American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Drug Information

    A collection of detailed monographs about most drugs available in the US, the AHFS is particularly helpful for drugs that are used more frequently in the US than in the UK or Australia. It is published annually by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and it is available online as AHFS Clinical Drug Information. The online version includes more drugs than the book and is updated regularly.  Remember to look up drugs under their American names.

    Merck Manual

    This is a small encyclopedia of medicine which is useful for refreshing your memory about common disease states, or finding out about the management of more unusual conditions. It is available free online at: https://www.msdmanuals.com/

    British National Formulary (BNF) & British National Formulary for Children (BNF-C)

    The BNF is designed to be a concise, first-line reference for the prescribing, dispensing and administration of drugs for UK health professionals. It may be helpful for new drugs, off-label uses and paediatrics. The BNF is published in hard copy twice a year. The BNF-C has a paediatric focus and is published annually in hard copy. Both are available via online subscription. 

    The Women’s Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Medicines Guide

    Compiled by medicines information pharmacists at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria, this is an Australian, independent, evidence-based practical guide to treatment options during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is available in electronic format and includes concise patient information factsheets.

    Neonatal Formulary

    This is a handbook on drug use in the neonatal period. Each monograph lists the main indications and the doses for both term and pre-term babies. Helpful neonatal pharmacokinetic parameters are included where they are known.

    Practical advice is given on how to administer the very small volumes that are sometimes required. Available in hard copy or e-book: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9781118819494.

    IntroductionBibliographic databases