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British National Formulary  
British National Formulary frontcover.png
The standard cover design is easily identified with each six-monthly edition distinguished by a different jacket colour. BNF57 (March 2009) is shown.
Author British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
Country United Kingdom
Language British English
Subject(s) Medicine
Genre(s) Medical reference
Publisher British Medical Journal Publishing Group and Pharmaceutical Press
Publication date March 2009
ISBN 978-0-85369-845-6
OCLC Number 299701920

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.


A new edition is published twice a year, in March and September. As a custom, the colour of each edition is radically different to the previous. The current edition is 59, which was published in March 2010. This version of the book is Purple in colour. In accordance with the normal 6 monthly schedule, edition 60 will be published in September 2010.


The BNF is available for purchase in printed form and also online at Internet visitors to who have an IP address in the UK, Channel Islands and developing countries can access the full text of BNF for free. Visitors with IP addresses in all other countries can subscribe to BNF at Medicines Complete.

Sister publications

The British National Formulary for Children (BNF-C) is published yearly, and details the doses and uses of medicines in children. There are also editions specially for nurses - The Nurse Prescriber's Formulary and The Extended Nurse Prescriber's Formulary, although with the recent changes to allow Extended Nurse Prescribers to prescribe from the full BNF, the fate of the latter publication is in some doubt.


The BNF (commonly referred to as the MHB) is divided into various sections with the main sections on drugs and preparations being organised by body system.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • General information and late changes
  • General Reference
  • Guidance on prescribing
  • Emergency treatment of poisoning
  • Medical emergencies in the community

Notes on drugs and preparations

  • 1 Gastro-intestinal system
  • 2 Cardiovascular system
  • 3 Respiratory system
  • 4 Central nervous system
  • 5 Infections
  • 6 Endocrine system
  • 7 Obstetrics, gynaecology, and urinary-tract disorders
  • 8 Malignant disease and immunosuppression
  • 9 Nutrition and blood
  • 10 Musculoskeletal and joint diseases
  • 11 Eye
  • 12 Ear, nose, and oropharynx
  • 13 Skin
  • 14 Immunological products and vaccines
  • 15 Anaesthesia

Appendixes and indexes

  • Appendix 1 Interactions
  • Appendix 2 Liver disease
  • Appendix 3 Renal impairment
  • Appendix 4 Pregnancy
  • Appendix 5 Breast-feeding
  • Appendix 6 Intravenous additives
  • Appendix 7 Borderline substances
  • Appendix 8 Wound management products and elastic hosiery
  • Appendix 9 Cautionary and advisory labels for dispensed medicines
  • Dental Practitioners’ Formulary
  • Nurse Prescribers’ Formulary
  • Index of manufacturers
  • Special-order manufacturers
  • Yellow Card

See also

External links

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