Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 21-February-2003, Vol 116 No 1169
The textbook of pharmaceutical medicine, 4th edition
John P Griffin and John O’Grady (eds). Published by BMJ Books 2002. ISBN 0-7279-1523-1. Contains 896 pages. Price GBP95
This is the fourth edition of a book first published in 1993 for those studying for the Diploma of Pharmaceutical Medicine in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK. It claims that it is now a standard text used by pharmaceutical medicine courses in Europe and the USA.
The editors are two eminent clinical pharmacologists, and there are 32 contributors (25 from the British Isles, 6 from North America, and 1 from Japan). These contributors represent pretty much a “who’s who” in the field of pharmaceutical medicine in the UK. The book is 896 pages long, and is divided into four parts, with 21 chapters in total. The four parts are as follows:
The book is largely aimed at trainees who are or will be working within the drug industry. As its size suggests, it is a comprehensive book, and would indeed be a “must read” for its relevant audience.
The book suffers, inevitably, from being multi-authored. This means that there is no consistent template from chapter to chapter, and the style of each author differs markedly. Much is written in continuous prose, with only a few authors utilising tables, diagrams and illustrations effectively. Some authors could have improved their chapters by making greater use of headings and subheadings. Another disadvantage of the multi-authored approach is repetition. Some topics, such as clinical pharmacokinetics, and statistics, while covered adequately as overviews have been covered better in short introductory texts. There is a useful appendix, which contains the Declaration of Helsinki and the Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry.
In summary, this is a comprehensive textbook written by key people, which is an essential reference book for those in this field. However, it is slightly disjointed and not very user-friendly. With more attention to a uniform format, better headings and subheadings, less repetition, and greater use of tables and diagrams, I believe the book would have been shorter, more user-friendly, and therefore more valuable.
Clinical Director of Clinical Pharmacology
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