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British National Formulary
File:British National Formulary frontcover.png
The standard cover design is easily identified with each six-monthly edition distinguished by a different jacket colour. BNF56 (September 2008) is shown.
AuthorBritish Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageBritish English
Genre(s)Medical reference
PublisherBritish Medical Journal Publishing Group and Pharmaceutical Press
ReleasedSeptember 2008
ISBNISBN 0853697787

The British National Formulary (BNF) contains a wide spectrum of information on prescribing and pharmacology, among others indications, side effects and costs of the prescription of all medications available on the National Health Service. It is used by general practitioners and specialist practitioners, and by other prescribers (such as nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists) to help them select appropriate treatments for their patients; as a general reference book on the wards by nurses who administer medications; and by patients and others seeking an authoritative source of pharmacological advice.

The BNF 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 twice a year (in March and September) under the authority of a Joint Formulary Committee which comprises representatives of the two professional bodies and the Department of Health (United Kingdom). Issue 56 was published in September 2008.

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. Many individuals and organisations contribute towards the preparation of the BNF.

There are several sister publications - The British National Formulary for Children (BNF-C), is produced, and details drugs and their doses/uses in children; as well as two 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 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.


The BNF 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

Current editions

As of September 2008 the current edition is v56, which has a green front cover. Following the normal 6 monthly schedule, v57 will be published in March 2009.

See also

  • Pharmacopeia
  • Pharmacy
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
  • Specification (technical standard)

External links

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