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National Training Office June 17th, 2021
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What do Bali and the Drug Information Portal Have to do w/Each Other?

Posted in: Blog, News, NIH, TOXNET and Beyond

What happened?
I was supposed to be on vacation in Bali, Indonesia at the end of November. But instead, I found myself still in Prairie Village, Kansas. Why am I telling you? Because mother earth, yes that earth, had other plans for me and Bali, namely the eruption of a volcano. Here is an impressive view of all the volcanoes in that part of the world: Volcanoes The airport closed and my flight was cancelled. So instead of being on a beach, I had some extra time on my hands.

Why We Teach TOXNET
The NTO teaches TOXNET not necessarily with the consumer or end-user in mind, but with the librarian or teacher in mind; a person who will help the consumer find reliable information or who will introduce students to a suite of databases that they can use as they go forward in their careers. I found myself, however, as an end-user (while not in Bali).

Teacher as End User
My father is 87 and now lives alone since my mother died about two months ago. He’s never been very good at taking care of himself. We discovered that all of his medications were mixed up and he had run out of some crucial medication; life sustaining medication. So I drove to his home (while not in Bali), which is about an hour away and I proceeded to organize his medicines. I got all of his prescriptions filled and bought a pillbox to fill and dispense his daily pill regimen. Then, I used the Drug Information Portal to look up images of all his pills. Did you know that was a feature of the portal? The Drug Portal has a deceptively simple interface, but links to all sorts of helpful information including clinical trials and the package inserts that are submitted to the FDA by drug manufacturers. There is also a link to a National Library of Medicine project called Pillbox, which is designed to help in the identification of pills (you know, the ones you find on the floor or at the bottom of your purse). It’s usually the last item on the list in the Summary section of a drug record. Look for: Drug Identification and Image Display (Pillbox).

So there I was, using the flashlight on my phone to try and see the imprints on my father’s pills. The flashlight (along with my reading glasses) wasn’t enough. I still couldn’t see the tiny pill imprints. I went looking for the lighted magnifying glass that I had bought for my mother. Using Pillbox, I was able to find and print images of the exact pills (the imprints matched the pictures) and created a list of my father’s current medications that included pictures (front and back) of each pill. Thank you Pillbox!

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