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University of Washington Health Sciences Library

Finding Drug Information

Drug Information Defined

Drug information wordle

It is called drug information, medication information, or drug informatics.  It’s really the discovery, use, and management of information in the use of medications. Drug information covers the gamut from identification, cost, and pharmacokinetics to dosage and adverse effects.  You may also need information about the body, health, or diseases in order to better utilize the drug information.

Classification of Information Sources

Drug information sources have been traditionally classified in three different categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary. For a more complete discussion of these categories of information resources, please refer to the following chapter:

Shields KM, Park SK. Drug Information Resources. In: Malone PM, Malone MJ, Park SK. eds. Drug Information: A Guide for Pharmacists 6e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2018. Accessed August 29, 2019.


Primary literature consists of clinical research studies and reports, both published and unpublished. Not all literature published in a journal is classified as primary literature, for example, review articles or editorials are not primary literature.  



Secondary literature refers to references that either index or abstract the primary literature, with the goal of directing the user to relevant primary literature.  



Tertiary sources provide information that has been summarized and distilled by the author or editor to provide a quick easy summary of a topic. Some examples of tertiary resources include textbooks, compendia, review articles in journals, and other general information, such as may be found on the Internet.   
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