The British National Formulary (BNF) is a medical and pharmaceutical reference book that contains a wide spectrum of information and advice on prescribing and pharmacology, along with specific facts and details about all medicines available on the National Health Service (NHS), including indication(s), contraindications, side effects, doses, legal classification, names and prices of available proprietary and generic formulations, and any other notable points. Though it is a national formulary, it nevertheless also includes entries for some medicines which are not available under the NHS and must be prescribed and/or bought privately (such as alprazolam tablets or minoxidil solution). A symbol clearly denotes such drugs in their entry.
It is used by doctors (both general practitioners and specialist practitioners), and by other non-prescribing healthcare professionals (such as nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists) to help them use drugs optimally to care for patients as appropriately as possible. For example, it would be a useful reference source for nurses who administer medications on hospital wards, and even for patients and others seeking an authoritative source of advice on any aspect of pharmacotherapy.
Many individuals and organisations contribute towards the preparation of the BNF. It is jointly published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the BMJ Group, which is owned by the British Medical Association. It is published under the authority of a Joint Formulary Committee which comprises representatives of the two professional bodies and the Department of Health.
Information on drugs is drawn from the manufacturers' product literature, medical and pharmaceutical literature, regulatory authorities and professional bodies. Advice is constructed from clinical literature and reflects, as far as possible, an evaluation of the evidence from diverse sources. The BNF also takes account of authoritative national guidelines and emerging safety concerns. In addition, the Joint Formulary Committee takes advice on all therapeutic areas from expert clinicians; this ensures that the BNF's recommendations are relevant to practice.
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