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Vol.2, No. 4, July 2000


The dog days of summer are upon us, but a 
wonderful article by Julia Whelan, Head of 
Reference at the Sheppard Library at the 
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, will 
help you keep your cool.  It leads off an 
issue devoted to selected web sites and print 
sources where you can quickly find quality 
information about drugs, herbs, and dietary 
supplements. As always, please let us know 
what you'd like to see in future issues.  Our 
contact information is at the end of the 
CHRC News.

Treadwell Library Contract 

Treadwell Library is delighted to announce 
that the Massachusetts Board of Library 
Commissioners has renewed its contract, 
from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001, to 
provide consumer health reference to 
regional member libraries.  

CHRC Workshop Wrapups

Joint CHRC/SLRS Workshops

In May, the MBLC sponsored five 
workshops covering services offered by the 
CHRC and the SLRS (Statewide Legal 
Reference Services).  Kate Kelly and Marnie 
Warner, Project Managers for CHRC and 
SLRS, respectively, reported that 120 
librarians from 96 libraries attended and 
asked many thoughtful questions.


At the MAHSLIN (Massachusetts Area 
Health Sciences Library Network) annual 
meeting in April, Kate Kelly presented "The 
Consumer Health Reference Center at 
Treadwell Library, Massachusetts General 
Hospital:  A Resource for Massachusetts 
Regional Member Libraries" to an audience 
of approximately 100 health sciences 


Despite the late Friday afternoon time slot, 
Kate Kelly reported a lively audience of 
librarians at her workshop, "Consumer 
Health Reference" during the April annual 
meeting of the MLA (Massachusetts Library 

Clinical Trials on the Web


An excellent source of clinical trial 
information, ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of 
the National Institutes of Health, developed 
by the National Library of Medicine, 
provides patients, family members, health 
care professionals, and members of the 
public easy access to information on clinical 
trials for a wide range of diseases and 
conditions. This site currently contains over 
4,000 clinical studies sponsored primarily by 
the National Institutes of Health. During the 
coming year, additional studies from other 
Federal agencies and the pharmaceutical 
industry will be included.

The trials listed in Clinicaltrials.gov are 
being offered at over 47,000 locations 

Electronic Journals

HighWire Press

Stanford University's HighWire Press 
announced several months ago that 
publishers of the journals it hosts now 
provide free online access to the full text of 
more than 137,000 articles. There are three 
entirely free journals, 51 journals offering 
free back issues and 32 offering free trial 

Massachusetts Models

Continuing our Massachusetts Models 
series, Julia Whelan, Head of Reference at 
Sheppard Library at the Massachusetts 
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 
describes her library's resources.  Her article 
is based on a presentation made at the 
MAHSLIN annual meeting in April.

Sheppard Library: A Resource 
for Drug, Pharmacy and 
Herb/Supplement Information

Sheppard Library at the Massachusetts 
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 
can serve as a resource for librarians on 
topics dealing with drugs, pharmacy practice 
and herbs. While the primary mission of the 
library is to meet the needs of the College's 
1,700 students and faculty, the library is 
open to the public and the reference staff are 
willing to help unaffiliated callers. Keep in 
mind, though, that depending on the number 
of users in the library, we may not be able to 
provide immediate assistance, but we try to 
get back to every caller within 24 hours.
The Reference Desk (617-732-2813) 
handles a steady stream of drug related 
questions, primarily from health 
professionals around New England. Our 
collection has many authoritative and 
comprehensive resources, both print and 
electronic, in the drug information and 
clinical pharmacy fields. Reference 
librarians can also call on the expertise of 
our faculty. One of the most frequently 
asked questions is foreign drug 
identification.  The caller has a foreign 
product and wants to know the ingredients, 
and whether there is a U.S. equivalent. We 
search databases and numerous drug 
compendia from around the world to answer 
these questions. Other frequently asked 
questions include:

- What company manufactures a 
particular product?
- Which drugs do not contain such 
fillers as sugar, lactose, etc.?
- What are the geographic locations 
for clinical trials for a new 
- Which drugs are most commonly 

The Drug Information Center (617-732-
2759) at Sheppard Library provides 
consultation to health care professionals and 
consumers.  At the moment, this service is 
free of charge although there are plans to 
convert to a subscription-based structure in 
the future. Currently, access is via phone 
with an e-mail query function to be 
implemented in the future. Typical questions 

-  therapeutic use recommendation
-  drug interactions
-     adverse effects 
-  dosing and duration of use 
-  foreign drug identification 

It's best to have the person with the question 
call the Center directly, since the pharmacist 
may need background information.  Turn-
around time must be allowed because the 
pharmacist staffing the Center may not be 
able to work on each question immediately.

In response to the increased interest in 
alternative medicine, the College opened the 
Center for Integrative Therapies in 
Pharmaceutical Care (CITPC).  Staffed by 
two faculty members who are experts in 
alternative medicine, the CITPC is working 
to gather information and conduct research 
on substance-based alternative therapies 
(herbs and supplements). The Sheppard 
Library received a grant from the National 
Network of Libraries of Medicine to collect 
resources to support this work, particularly 
the education of pharmacists on herbs and 
nutritional supplements. To date, the Library 
has added more than ten journals in 
alternative medicine to its collection and 
started subscriptions to a variety of fee-
based alternative medicine databases.  

CITPC faculty and this writer are 
collaborating with other researchers from a 
variety of health professions in the 
Longwood Herbal Taskforce, at  
This web site provides peer-reviewed, 
referenced information on a growing number 
of herbs and dietary supplements.  To date, 
of the 75 herbs or dietary supplements listed, 
32 monographs are completed, 30 are in 
progress, and 13 are planned.  For each herb 
or supplement, there  is a comprehensive 
monograph, a handout for the clinician, and 
a patient handout.  New monographs are 
added monthly.

Questions on herbs and supplements may be 
directed to the Reference Desk. However, if 
the question involves a clinical interpretation 
or recommendation, it should be directed to 
the Drug Information Center.  Staffers there 
will channel these inquiries to the CITPC 

Library web page:  
Author's web page:  

Reference Desk: 617-732-2813
Drug Information Center: 617-732-2759

Hours:  Library hours vary according to 
academic calendar; generally:
Monday-Thursday, 7 am-11 pm 
Friday, 7 am-5 pm
Saturday, 11 am-6 pm
Sunday, 1 pm-11 pm  
Reference Desk: Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm

Selected Sources of Drug 
Information on the Web

Though there is a plethora of drug 
information on the web, it is a challenge to 
find facts that come from highly reputable 
sources, and can be readily understood by 
consumers. Sometimes, finding such 
information is as easy as going into the USP 
(United States Pharmacopeia) Advice for 
the Patient.  This was recently made 
available through the National Library of 
Medicine at their Medlineplus web site, 
ormation.html.  Here you will find a guide to 
over 9,000 prescription and over-the-counter 
medications. You can browse by the first 
letter of the generic or brand name. 
Information provided includes brand names; 
descriptions; risks, benefits and proper use  
of the medication; precautions; side effects, 
and additional information.

Advice for the Patient is also available 
through InfoTrac's Health Reference Center, 
via the Massachusetts Library and 
Information Network.  Type the name of the 
drug you're looking for, then go to the Limit 
menu.  In the limit the current search area, 
type advice for the patient in the to the 
following journal(s) box.  

Drug-Herb Interactions

The Natural Pharmacist

Choose the Drug Interactions Tool to help 
decide which herbs and nutrients might be 
harmful (or helpful) if combined with a 
medication.  Enter your age and gender, and 
choose a prescribed or over-the-counter 
medication from the drop-down menu to 
view possible interactions.  For example, a 
30 year old woman taking Paxil can see that 
the herbs yohimbe and St. John's wort, as 
well as the supplements SAM-e and 5-HTP, 
have all been found to react adversely with 

New Medicines in Development

Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America 

According to its home page, PhRMA 
membership represents approximately 100 
U.S. companies that have a primary 
commitment to pharmaceutical research. Use 
the search engine, or click on Explore the 
New Medicines in Development Database, 
then click on Proceed.  This database 
contains information on pharmaceutical 
products in the research and testing phase.   
Though the information has been obtained 
through government and industry sources, it 
may not be comprehensive.  You can search 
by disease, indication, or drug.  (An 
indication is a symptom that indicates the 
need to prescribe a medication or perform a 
treatment or procedure.) To search by 
disease, select a disease from the drop-down 
menu.  After you choose a disease, you will 
see a list of indications. Choose an 
indication to see a list of drugs being 
developed to treat it.

Newly Approved Drugs 

Doctor's Guide Global Edition

This comprehensive, up-to-the-minute site 
contains news from highly reliable sources 
relating the approval of new drugs or of new 
indications for previously available drugs. 
Click on New Drugs/Indications for a 
chronological listing of news.  Sources 
include the FDA as well as press releases 
from drug companies and scientific 
societies. The Doctor's Guide search engine 
was used to answer a recent CHRC question:  
"Where can I find more information about a 
new procedure called vertebroplasty?"  
There were four hits, one of which led to a 
press release from the Society of Cardio- 
vascular & Interventional Radiology 
(SCVIR) describing a new technique for 
pain relief for those suffering from 
compression fractures due to osteoporosis.  
Using the search engine Google, at 
http://www.google.com,  it was easy to find 
SCVIR's site,  http://www.scvir.org/, and 
read much more information about this 
procedure.   Among the many extras in the 
Doctor's Guide are links to Merriam-
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and 
CancerWeb's online medical dictionary. 

Consumer Drug Information 
Sheets (FDA)

This site for consumers provides basic 
information about medications recently 
approved by the FDA. Only information 
about drugs approved since January 1998 
appears on this page. Since these are newly 
approved drugs, they may not yet be on the 

Center for Drug Evaluation and 
Research (FDA)

This is an extensive, searchable site which 
includes such topics as new and generic drug 
approvals; FDA Drug Approvals List; a 
reverse chronological listing of all drugs 
approved since September 1996; new drugs 
approved for cancer indications; major drug 
information pages (e.g. Thalidomide, 
Viagra); consumer drug information; over-
the-counter drug information; drug safety 
and side effects; and public health alerts and 
warning letters.

Selected Sources of Drug 
Information in Print

An excellent print source of "where do I find 
it?" is Bonnie Snow's Drug information: a 
guide to current resources (Lanham, Md.: 
Scarecrow Press, 1999).  Over 700 pages 
long, it is thoroughly annotated, with an all-
important appendix, "Directory of Internet 
Resources Cited." Chapters cover 
newsletters available online, guides to 
product identification, sources of 
information about side effects, and much 

Other print sources that we use at Treadwell 
to answer your drug-related questions 
include Therapeutic guide to herbal 
medicines (Austin, Tex.: American 
Botanical Council; Boston: Integrative 
Medicine Communications, 1998) often 
better known by its alternative title, 
Complete German Commission E 
monographs.  It includes 300 monographs, 
about two-thirds of which are positive, 
covering herbs that have been found safe 
and effective.  The remaining monographs 
are negative.  Each monograph includes 
synonyms, composition, uses, risks, and an 

Varro Tyler is an expert in the field of herbal 
medicine.  We may turn to one of his books,
Tyler's Honest herbal : a sensible guide to 
the use of herbs and related remedies  
(New York : Haworth Herbal Press, 1999) 
for more descriptive information on 100 
botanicals, selected on the basis of their 
significance to the public.  Each description 
is followed by references.  He is cautious in 
his recommendations and consistently 
advises discussion with health care 

Tyler's Herbs of choice : the therapeutic 
use of phytomedicinals  (New York : 
Haworth Herbal Press, 1999) contains 
chapters devoted to diseases of various body 
systems (e.g. cardiovascular, respiratory, 
nervous system) and describes in a scientific 
but generally understandable style, the herbs 
which may be used for their treatment.

Searching for reliable, understandable, and 
relevant information, whether for an over-
the-counter or prescription drug, can be a 
challenging problem.  Please don't hesitate 
to contact us for assistance!


CHRC Contact Information

Tel: 1-877-MEDI-REF (1-877-633-4733)
 or    617-726-8600

Fax: 617-726-6784

or treadwellqanda@partners.org

Consumer Health Reference Center
Treadwell Library 
Bartlett Hall Extension 1 
Massachusetts General Hospital 
Boston, MA 02114.