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Book Reviews

Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs, 18th revised ed

Catherine Chiles, MD

Published: May 15, 2010

Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs, 18th revised ed

edited by Adil S. Virani, BSc (Pharm), PharmD, FCSHP; Kalyna Z. Bezchlibnyk-Butler, BScPhm, FCSHP; and J. Joel Jeffries, MB, FRCPC. Hogrefe & Huber, Göttingen, Germany, 2009, 372 pages, $79.00 (spiral-bound).

The widening landscape of pharmacotherapy in clinical practice mandates that the busy practitioner and the learner consult the latest information available. This need would be sufficient to warrant a revision of this text in the brief span of 2 years. (Please refer to the recent Journal book review1 of the 2007 edition of the Handbook.2)

However, this newly revised text is much more than an update; it is a wholesale improvement in clarity of presentation and ease of use for an already remarkable handbook. The 18th revised edition has added color coding and intuitive icons, easing the eyeful of data previously presented in all black ink on white paper. The data are now more quickly referenced according to 4 color-coded sections: general information/drug availability (blue), pharmacology/mechanisms of action (green), warnings and precautions (red), and patient-related issues (orange). Subsections (eg, drug interactions, adverse effects, toxicity) are identified not only according to one of the 4 section colors (eg, red for warnings and precautions) but also by an intuitive icon (eg, skull-and-crossbones symbol for "toxicity"). There is a handy reference for all the icons inside the cover leaf to guide the initial use of the Handbook. Each subsection visually "pops" for the reader through the use of color: lines divide subsections, and tables are highlighted. The use of a cleaner, slightly smaller font throughout has yielded a more readable text overall. These general improvements are simple but definitive.

In summary, the 18th revised edition of this classic Handbook has moved beyond mere update to aid the reader’s ease of access to critically important information about psychotropic drugs extant today. The difference is that of night and (colorful) day.


1. Chiles C. Review of Bezchlibnyk-Butler KZ, Jeffries JJ, Virani AS, eds. Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs, 17th revised ed. J Clin Psychiatry. 2009;70(2):299-300.

2. Bezchlibnyk-Butler KZ, Jeffries JJ, Virani AS, eds. Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs, 17th revised ed. Ashland, Ohio: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers; 2007.

Catherine Chiles, MD

Author affiliation: Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut. Potential conflicts of interest: None reported.

Volume: 71

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