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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 28, 2005

Herman Trains Top Pharmacists In United Arab Emirates

A University of Iowa College of Pharmacy faculty member recently returned from the United Arab Emirates where he helped train a group of the leading pharmacists in Abu Dhabi.

Ronald Herman, Ph.D., clinical associate professor in the UI College of Pharmacy, spent two weeks in September training pharmacists to use the Iowa Drug Information Service, (IDIS) a computer-based drug information database. Herman is director of the Iowa Drug Information Network, a branch of the UI College of Pharmacy's Division of Drug information Service (DDIS).

Pharmacists in each state, as well as every continent, currently use IDIS. Subscribers to the service have access to 200 medical journals from 1966 to the present, with materials from 1997 to the present available on the Web or CD-ROM.

As director of the Iowa Drug Information Network, Herman has had several opportunities to train new users how to use the drug information database. He has traveled abroad to train others in its use, and some international users have come to the UI for training.

In the United Arab Emirates, the General Authority for Health Services (GAHS) is responsible for the provision of health services for the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Currently, there are five major hospitals and 46 primary health centers in Abu Dhabi. The government's primary goal for GAHS has been the provision of quality medical care that meets the regulatory standards of leading international health care organizations.

One step the country needed to take in order to meet these standards was the establishment of a national drug and poison information center. Mohamed Abu Khair, drug consultant advisor and head of the pharmacy activities, and fellow GAHS pharmacy leaders requested training from the DDIS based on its solid reputation in drug information services.

As the UI representative, Herman spent two weeks in Abu Dhabi providing consultations with GAHS leadership and training pharmacists who will operate the new National Drug and Poison Information Center. He spent four hours training nearly 75 pharmacists in IDIS utilization. The training included lectures, hands-on demonstrations and many projects to demonstrate implementation of the new skills.

Eventually, hospitals across the region will have access to the IDIS database. In addition, five pharmacists who will operate the national center and five GAHS pharmacists were given approximately 60 hours of individualized training to develop their skills as specialists in medication information.

Although it is common to countries such as the United States, the United Arab Emirates has not had a national poison control center in the past. Herman said that the once the center is completed, its staff needs to be knowledgeable in IDIS use, as well as in general management of the center.

"My training in Abu Dhabi was two-fold," Herman said. "One part was to work with those individuals and give them basic information-searching skills and ability to process information, and how to take care of poison-type situations. We also reviewed how to evaluate literature -- how to be able to realize whether the information that they are looking at is accurate."

The new poison control center is to open in the coming months. Herman said he plans to revisit the country, possibly as soon as spring 2006.

In May 2004, Herman spent 10 days in the African nation of Botswana, teaching pharmacists there how to use the network, and he helped establish that country's first national drug information center.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,; Writer: Whitney Tripp.