Physicians' Desk Reference

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The Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) is a commercially published compilation of manufacturers' prescribing information (package insert) on prescription drugs, updated annually. While designed to provide physicians with the full legally mandated information relevant to writing prescriptions (just as its name suggests), it is widely available in libraries and bookstores, widely used by other medical specialists, and in significant part valuable to consumers.

Since the late 20th century, a consumer edition has been offered at a much reduced price. Electronic editions are available on CD-ROM and the World Wide Web to subscribers. PDR is owned by the Thomson Corporation of Toronto.

The main edition is usable by determined consumers in conjunction with a medical dictionary. Many practicing physicians are willing to give a patient their copy of the previous year's edition when they receive their new one, and a recent edition generally differs from the current one almost entirely by the absence of the drugs introduced in the course of the intervening years.

The term PDR is also used in a generic sense to mean drug information resource. There have been many electronic resources such as DrDrugsor RxDrugs, available on PDAs, Smart phones as well as desktop (PC).

About the PDR

The 2005 version is the 59th edition, and has information on over 4000 drugs.

The PDR material contained includes:

  • Comprehensive indexing (4 sections)
    • by Manufacturer
    • Products (by company's or trademarked drug name)
    • Category index (for example, "antihistamines")
    • Generic/chemical index (non-trademark common drug names)
  • Color images of medications
  • Product information, consistent with FDA labelling
    • Chemical information
    • Function/action
    • Indications & Contraindications
    • Trial research, side effects, warnings

Related references

There are several versions and related volumes:

  • PDR
  • PDR for Nonprescription Drugs, Dietary Supplements, and Herbs
  • PDR Drug Interactions and Side Effects Index
  • PDRhealth - Version in lay terms.
  • PDR Family Guide to Over-the-Counter Drugs - Lay term guide to non-prescription medication.
  • PDR for Ophthalmic Medicines

Online version

  • PDR online - online version, free for US medical professionals only.


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