Who you gonna call? Drug information

On Rotation Diary

With final exams on the horizon and commencements just around the corner, I would like to tell you about my exciting rotation with drug information (DI). On this second to last rotation, I made sure to put in extra effort and learn as much knowledge as possible before my chapter as a student pharmacist comes to a close. I continued to grow my skills in conducting systematic searches for information and providing clear and concise evidence-based answers to a variety of health care professionals.

Is there ever a routine day on a DI rotation? Definitely not! There were so many more opportunities to get involved while working in DI! The following are a few of my most exciting experiences!

The basics

There is an abundant amount of health information on the Internet and much of it sketchy at best. DI services provide accurate and quality information in a timely manner. The DI service I worked with while on rotation was responsible for servicing a tertiary health care center comprised of an adult hospital, a children's hospital, 120 outpatient clinics, and 40 health centers with more than 900 patient beds. In addition, the service also provided pharmacotherapy consultations for hospitals located in southeastern Michigan.

The DI call center, one of the services provided by drug information that is completely run by student pharmacists, receives approximately 1,800 health care provider questions annually. While on rotation, I had the opportunity to explore and find answers to the most common questions, such as a medication's therapeutic use, pharmacokinetics, dosing, medication interactions, toxicity, pregnancy/lactation use, compatibility, and shortage availability, to the more extraordinary inquiries, like homeopathic use, tapering regimens, stability in refrigerator/freezer outages, and compounding regulations. To answer effectively, I participated in weekly topic discussions and evidence-based medicine assessments to review the most helpful DI resources, including those found online.

One of the more interesting requests I encountered during rotation was when I was tasked by a pharmacist to find out more about the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu—Roche) in national strategic stockpiles, specifically the proper emergency preparedness handling of expired medications. As someone hoping to enter public health after graduation, this was right up my alley.

After ing FDA, CDC, and my state's community health department, I discovered that select lots of oseltamivir may receive extensions to their expiration dating by FDA during times of natural disaster. Another interesting request came from a transplant pharmacist who wanted to know more about the bioavailability and safety profile of magnesium treatments complexed with protein. Early studies demonstrated that more patients tolerate this organic chemical identity as compared to magnesium oxide. I also found that the manufacturer is conducting larger trials. The company agreed to send my institution notice as soon as these trials were published.

More than just an operator

Although answering DI requests was a primary responsibility, I also participated in numerous projects associated with the pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee, ambulatory infusion formulary committee, the cancer pharmacy committee, and the product and vendor selection subcommittee within the health system. I found that in addition to answering health-relevant questions, pharmacists from the drug information group also chair these committees and take the lead in tackling their initiatives and organizing meetings.

I completed several projects, including a P&T drug monograph on a monoclonal antibody aimed at inducing remission for those with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. I also completed several MedWatch reports detailing drug adverse events and wrote a newsletter article outlining the new guidelines released by the U.S. Public Health Service about HIV post-exposure prophylaxis in occupational health care providers. I concluded by finishing a medication use evaluation on intravenous immunoglobulin to ensure proper ordering and dispensing of this extremely expensive blood product to patients.

Fuel for the future

DI was just the rotation I needed to boost my skillset and confidence. I now task other health care providers and students to give me their best shot. If I don't know the answer, I'll know where to find it. With another rotation completed, I continue on my path to being a professional with newly learned integration and collaboration skills necessary to determine the most appropriate course of action in any given health care situation. 

Tune in to the July–August issue of Student Pharmacist, where I will take off my mask and reveal who "Collin" really is!