Drug information resources

Below is a list of drug information resources for both mobile devices and online access. I’ve used most, but not all, of these resources and have found the mobile versions to be a valuable resource when you’re on the go. While it is possible to access the online versions of these resources via a smartphone, the mobile applications are designed with the smaller screen in mind and therefore, in my opinion, work better then the online versions when using a mobile device.

Let me know if I missed any. Also feel free to comment on your favorite.


Lexi_prescreenLexi-Comp – Available for the Palm OS, webOS (in beta), Windows Mobile, i.e. Pocket PC, BlackBerry, Mobile browser based support for Internet Explorer, Safari Mobile, Opera Mobile 8.65 and higher and Opera Mini 4.1 (to verify your mobile browser is compatible with the MOBILE site, please visit http://m.lexi.com/test within the browser on your device), and the iPhone. Lexi-Comp is the king of mobile drug information resources and definitely the most respected among drug information professionals, i.e. pharmacists. It’s a little pricey, but worth it.

Epocrates – Available for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm (not webOS), WinMobile and Windows Smartphones. – Epocrates is available as free or paid service. This drug information resource is popular among nurses and physicians. Most pharmacists I know have it on their mobile device because it’s free, but will reach for Lexi-Comp if given the choice.

Clinical Pharmacology OnHand for Pocket PC and Palm – Fee for service and I’ve never used it.

Thomson Clinical Xpert (mobileMICROMEDEX ) – You can probably count this one out as it is only available for the Palm and Pocket PC operating systems. I’ve used it on a Palm device and it was nothing to write home about.

Skyscape – Several offerings like AHFS for many platforms including Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch , Palm OS, Symbian (Nokia), and Windows Mobile/Pocket PC/Smartphone. Skyscape offers a free version of their drug information resource for the iPhone/iPod touch. The UI is clunky and it won’t replace Lexi-Comp or Epocrates, but it’s worth having as a secondary reference. One thing I find interesting about the Skyscape website is their separation of PharmD and Pharmacist into two different user categories.  What exactly do these guys think a PharmD is anyway?medscape_pharmfind

PEPID – Available for the Palm OS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and iPhone. PEPID stands for Portable Emergency Physician Information Database and is designed as a reference for emergency personnel. Not comprehensive drug information, but again, worth having.

Medscape offers a free drug information app for the iPhone/iPod touch. It includes a drug interaction checker, medical news and CME for physicians. However, the best feature is the Pharmacy directory. Take a look at the image to the right. I put my home zip code into the find pharmacy feature of the Medscape app and it threw up several nearby pharmacies. Cool.


LexiUTD_screenLexi-Comp ONLINE with AHFS – The de facto standard for drug information resources. The facility I’m currently in offers only a piece of the Lexi-Comp online references as part of our UpToDate subscription (a great medical reference in its own right). I’ve used Lexi-Comp in other facilities that I’ve worked in and it is fantastic.

MICROMEDEX – I’m not quite sure why, but this seems to be the drug information resource for most hospitals. I’ve used it at the last three hospitals I’ve worked in and have never been impressed with it. Maybe it’s widely used because it was one of the first online drug information resources available. In that case, it’s just another example of the healthcare industry being afraid of change.

mainpageFacts & Comparisons – We had a 30 trial of the online version of Facts & Comparisons. It offered various clinical calculators, an easy search interface, separate black box warning information, and so on. Facts & Comparisons was really quite good and I would definitely recommend it as an alternative to MICROMEDEX.

Epocrates – Offers both free and “premium” packages for online drug information, although its real claim to fame is the mobile version.

Clinical Pharmacology OnHand – Requires subscription and I’ve never used it.

PEPID Online – Geared toward the emergency provider.

12 thoughts on “Drug information resources”

  1. Hi Konrad – I was unaware that Pharmacy OneSource offered such a service. Thanks for the information!

  2. I just learned that the Motorola Droid only offers 560MB of storage space for Apps. This is a HUGE bummer. Lexi-Comp alone is a few hundred MBs on my iPhone.

  3. Yeah, I heard the same thing although a 16 GB microSD card is included, with support for up to 32 GB cards. I assume Lexi-Comp will run from the microSD card. I’m headed for Verizon to check one out tomorrow.

  4. A while back we did some systematic evaluations of most of the tools you described in your post. They were basically snapshots and are pretty dated at this point – but I think they still have some utility.

    One assessed online drug info databases (BMC Med Inform Decis Mak full-text at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1472-6947-7-7.pdf) and found Clinical Pharmacology performed best, barely edging Micromedex. An interesting aspect that I think adds some current relevance is that our findings almost mirrored those of Amy Peak’s at Butler – despite both studies using different approaches and being conducted (unwittingly) concurrently. I think those two studies were also the first to make people ask the same question you proposed – why do most hospitals automatically buy Micromedex?

    The other study extended the previous by evaluating online drug info databases’ PDA counterparts (Pharmacotherapy http://www.atypon-link.com/PPI/doi/abs/10.1592/phco.27.12.1651). As you suggested in your post – Lexi performed the best in the PDA category. I also think it is notable that Lexi’s PDA products have fared well in other specialties since then, including an October 2009 article on nursing-specific databases where it tied for best performer (Int J Med Inform http://bit.ly/4AjHgX).

    A final takeaway from the literature on this topic is the room for improvement in these tools – highlighted by the most recent (Oct 2009) study which demonstrated a 4% error rate across all databases.

  5. Thanks for the information Kevin. Looks like I have some literature to catch up on. One thing I’ve been unable to find is drug information for the Droid. I’m enjoying the phone, but feel naked without certain resources.

    While not the most complete drug reference available, I do believe the Lexi-comp databases are the best suited for pharmacists. The information is laid out in a concise, user friendly manner. There is so much information to chose from that it must be difficult for companies like Lexi-comp to design resources that don’t overwhelm the user. I would like to see better information on certain topics; compatibility, extemporaneous preparations, off label uses, etc.

    I’m not surprised by your comment regarding Micromedex. I’ve never been a big fan and don’t trust the information beyond the basics. I also find it interesting that these resources demonstrate a 4% error rate across the board. When you consider the amount of information contained in these databases that can add up in a hurry. It would be interesting to know if any of these errors have ever led to an adverse drug event.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.