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Can Fam Physician. 2010 March; 56(3): e125.
PMCID: PMC2837708

Canadian Pharmacists Association guide to drugs in Canada

Reviewed by Loren Regier

EDITOR Lalitha Raman-Wilms  PUBLISHER Dorling Kindersley, 662 King St W, Suite 304, Toronto, ON M5B 1M7  TELEPHONE 800 399–6858  WEBSITE 2009/528 pp/$30.00 


STRENGTHS Detailed and concise; good use of symbols and illustrations

WEAKNESSES Somewhat high reading level for lay audiences

AUDIENCE General public, Canadians wanting to take charge of their own treatment

If you could take an immense amount of complex drug information and send it through a filter that preserved the essence of high-quality patient-oriented information, you could well end up with this book. It has just enough detail to be useful without getting lost in “too much information.” However, the book is somewhat limited in reflecting more recent evidence and the changes in prescribing trends.

The book is divided into 5 parts: Part 1 provides an introduction to understanding and using drugs. Part 2 provides a drug index. Part 3 discusses critical drug groups by system and includes helpful illustrations. Part 4 provides specific drug information (1 page per drug) in an A-to-Z format, including quick reference ratings. Part 5 consists of a glossary of drug-related terms.

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The A-to-Z section is particularly well organized. It systematically covers how to take the drug, dietary advice to follow, where the drug should be stored, etc. It also provides information on only the more pertinent adverse effects and notes if they are common or rare and whether or not any action needs to be taken. Note that the list of side effects is quite a bit shorter than you will find in the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties, also put out by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, and most patient druginformation leaflets. A Special Precautions section covers considerations for pregnancy, age, driving, hazardous work, and alcohol use.

The book provides only a limited feel for the balance of benefits and risks the patient might receive from a given drug therapy; however, it is a high-quality drug reference source for the “overachiever” type of patient. If patients are going to be reading about their diseases and related drugs, it would be beneficial for them to find a quality book like this rather than a less trustworthy Internet or “testimonial” source.

Articles from Canadian Family Physician are provided here courtesy of College of Family Physicians of Canada