Tarascon ePharmacopoeia Review

This review takes a look at Tarascon ePharmacopoeia from the viewpoint of a seasoned critical care nurse and educator who is new to the Palm-based computing platform.


The Tarascon pharmacopoeia is a free download that can be accessed from Medscape, a medical website that can be accessed free of charge once you complete a generic "member profile". The actual Tarascon pharmacopoeia download can be accessed by pointing your browser to: www.medscape.com and following the link to "Tarascon ePharmacopoeia".

The Tarascon ePharmacopoeia website supplies the reader with an overview of the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia program and two sample screens as they would appear on your Palm device (Figure 1 and Figure 2). Once you have reviewed this page, you can select one of two different downloads: (1) "Download Tarascon ePharmacopoeia" or (2) "Download Medscape Mobile". Medscape Mobile includes the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia as well as access to Medscape Articles and a Medical Calculator.

The Tarascon ePharmacopoeia download is available for both Macintosh and Windows. This is a Palm-based application only, and is not intended for use on devices running Windows CE. The download is a quick and straightforward process that is started by clicking on the appropriate version. The installed file size is 1013K. System requirements are clearly listed on the web page.


Installation can be completed within a few minutes. Personally, I use the Palm IIIc. When I downloaded the Tarascon Application, I saved it to the following file: C:\Palm\Add-on\TarasconSetup.exe. Once in this folder, I selected the application "Tarascon Setup". (You can not use WinZip to open this file as it was not a zipped file), I was able to click "run" to begin the setup. The installation instructions were very straightforward. The installation requires you to select "next" through a short series of screens, then "finish". Once finished, the screen prompts you to select a Palm to install to. You then click "install" and are prompted to "Place your Palm in its cradle and press the 'Hot Sync' button. This will install Medscape Mobile in your Palm." The Hot Sync process was fairly quick and went off without a glitch. However if you run into any trouble, there is a "Download Help" link on the download web page.


I have always heard colleagues rave about the benefits and ease of use of the paper version of the Tarascon Pharmacopoeia. After using the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia program, I can see why. The biggest benefit, of course, is that this program is free! In addition, according to the website, the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia is the "#1 selling portable drug reference, enabling you to locate detailed information in seconds from a database of more than 3,000 brand and generic drugs."

The program itself is very user-friendly. The process of looking up medications takes mere seconds. You can search the drug database two ways: (1) by class or (2) by drug - alphabetically. The classes of medications include: analgesics, anesthesia, antimicrobials, cardiovascular, contrast media, dermatology, endocrine, ENT, GI, hematology, immunology, neurology, OB/GYN, oncology, ophth, psychiatry, pulmonary, toxicology, and urology. Once a category is selected by "tapping" on a class of drug, you must select a subclass of drug to further narrow the search. Within the subclasses, drugs are listed alphabetically. When searching alphabetically by drug name, you can scroll through the alphabetical list or you can narrow the search by entering as many letters of the drug name as desired (using Graffiti writing or by tapping the keypad at the "Lookup" prompt). Entering three letters is typically sufficient to locate the drug you are searching for. Drugs are listed by both brand name and generic name. This is an extremely fast method of searching for accurate drug information - which is critical in today's health care environment.

(Figure 1)

(Figure 2)

Once you select a drug, a plethora or information can be found at the end of your stylus. This includes information on therapy class and subclass, metabolism and excretion, safety in pregnancy, safety in lactation, if the drug is a DEA controlled substance, and relative cost. Other information, of course, includes Adult and Pediatric dosing and prescribing information, prescribable forms of the drug, warnings, and additional notes (which includes some "nursing implications" information). As an added benefit, you can also add personal "notes" for each medication by tapping on the icon that looks like a pad of paper and typing or Graffiti-writing the information. As a critical care nurse, I was pleasantly surprised that the dosing information for many of the drugs included IV doses for emergent use as well as PO and other administration doses for continued therapy. An example is the beta-blocker Lopressor. This is not always the case, however, and the user may have to enter information for future reference in the clinical setting. An example is Fentanyl, which can be given IVP but is only listed in the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia as Duragesic Patches, Actiq, and Fentanyl Oralet.

As an added benefit, you can add selected drugs to your "common" use list - this is a separate tab on the main screen (Figure 1). Last, but not least, Tarascon ePharmacopoeia includes a section of "Tables", or additional reference information (Figure 1). The reference information is listed alphabetically by class and subclass, just like the drug information. For example, the class "General" with the subclass "Cardiac protocols" includes cardiac protocols (yes, the new AHA guidelines are incorporated). The class "Cardiac" with the subclass "Cardiac parameters" includes a multitude of formulas such as Cardiac Output and Mean Arterial Pressure as well as normal values for Pulmonary Artery (PA) catheters. The class "General" with the subclass "Formulas" includes such important formulas as Anion Gap, Calculated Osmolality, and Golden Rules of Arterial Blood Gases. There are too many useful formulas in this section to list. The only downside is the fact that, because there is so much data contained in this section, you will have to become rather familiar with the contents and location of specific formulas in order to quickly access needed information in an emergent clinical situation. Perhaps the manufacturer might consider a way to add formulas to a "common" or "favorite" list in the future.


The benefits of having quick access to comprehensive medication information cannot be underestimated in the clinical setting. The combination of the Palm platform and Tarascon ePharmacopoeia allows the clinician to quickly and accurately access drug reference information as well as common formulas used in the clinical setting. Unfortunately, for those living outside of the United States, the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia is not currently licensed outside of the United States. In addition, I would prefer to have vital information such as clearly stated mechanism of action, indications, contraindications, dosage (to include all possible routes and doses), precautions, and complications/side effects/drug interactions for each drug listed. On the plus side, it is possible to enter this information in the "Notes" section of the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia for each drug. This, however, could prove to be quite time-consuming. Nevertheless, I did find the Tarascon ePharmacopoeia to be a very helpful drug and table/formula reference tool. I would encourage those of you considering a medication reference software program to take a serious look a Tarascon ePharmocopoeia. As a consumer myself, I would love to see a comparison review of all medication reference software that is available for the Palm platform.

Jacqueline C. Stocking, RN, MSN, CEN, CFP, EMT-P

Editor's note: Jackie is a flight nurse in Austin TX. And been flying since 1992. She 17 years experience in this field of work. Jackie has also worked as a firefighter, paramedic, paramedic coordinator, and a RN in the ER, Trauma Dept, Critical Care, Critical Care Ground Transport, and Flight Nursing.

Jackie's areas of practice interest include education, research, ED/trauma, critical care and flight nursing.


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