Doctors need an accurate source of current data about the comparative effectiveness, safety, and costs of prescription drugs. This information can be time-consuming to assemble from the research literature, and the promotional materials that pharmaceutical companies produce often present a one-sided view. The Independent Drug Information Service provides an accurate, up-to-date synthesis of relevant drug information in a non-biased format.
A team of physicians and drug researchers at Harvard Medical School comprehensively evaluate medical journals and other data sources to pull together the best available information about drugs used commonly in primary care practice. They then synthesize it into concise, clinically relevant summaries. These materials are presented to practitioners in their offices by a team of specially trained Independent Drug Information Service pharmacists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
For 25 years, the Harvard team has been developing ways to provide unbiased, non-commercial drug information to prescribers. This approach is known as "academic detailing" and has been utilized in Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the Netherlands to assist prescribers in making optimal prescribing decisions. In the United States, the Independent Drug Information Service is a state initiative unique to Pennsylvania.
The PACE Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging is covering the costs of the program, which represents less than one-twentieth of one percent of the state's direct drug expenditures. In Washington DC, the program is wholly financed by the Department of Health. Programs like the Independent Drug Information Service can more than pay for themselves through improved patient outcomes and reduced drug expenditures.