Leading charities welcome new BNF guidance for health professionals

Monday 9th March – Leading charities have today welcomed new guidance for healthcare professionals in the latest edition of the BNF (British National Formulary).

Published today, BNF 57 contains vital new information on conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, respiratory failure and HIV infection.

The BNF is the ‘drugs bible’ for health professionals. It is used three million times a week by doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists throughout the UK to help them keep up to date on the best treatment options for their patients.

BNF 57 advises that fibre intake of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should be reviewed, and if an increase in dietary fibre is required, soluble fibre is recommended but bran should be avoided. It also advises on treatment with antidepressants for abdominal pain or discomfort.

Welcoming this new guidance, Dr Nick Read, Medical Advisor at the Gut Trust, the national charity for people with IBS in the UK, said: “We believe that the advice on fibre consumption is long overdue and we are delighted that this guidance is now included in the BNF. The advice on drug treatment is also a welcome step forward for the many millions who live with the pain and discomfort of IBS on a daily basis.”

The new edition also includes the latest information on the emergency use of oxygen. It follows a British Thoracic Society (BTS) recommendation that patients who have had an episode of hypercapnic respiratory failure should be given an oxygen alert card including the oxygen saturations required during previous exacerbations.

Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, the only UK charity for people with lung disease, said: “Getting the right level of emergency oxygen treatment is vital. Oxygen alert cards are a great way for patients, ambulance crew and healthcare professionals to avoid making mistakes. We are delighted that this guidance has now been incorporated in the BNF where health professionals can refer to it quickly and whenever they need it.”

Guidance on the treatment of HIV infection has been updated in BNF 57 to take account of the recommendations of the British HIV Association. Advice on reducing the cardiovascular risk of patients receiving antiretrovirals has also been expanded to include information on monitoring plasma lipids and blood glucose.

Lisa Power, Head of Policy at HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust said: “With the right treatment, people with HIV can live relatively healthy lives. We welcome this new guidance in the BNF as it will help to ensure consistent high standards of care for everyone entitled to free HIV treatment in the UK.”

BNF 57 also includes the latest advice on preventing osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women and updated guidance on the use of oral antidiabetic drugs during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Commenting on the new edition, Martin Kendall OBE, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pharmacology from the University of Birmingham Medical school says: “The BNF has been a trusted source of prescribing information for decades, and BNF 57 is no exception. Health professionals at all levels can continue to rely on the BNF to keep them up to date and help them to maintain sensible, cost-effective and safe use of medicines.”

Details about all these changes can be found easily in the insert that accompanies every new edition and in the Changes section of the BNF.

Click here to view full insert:


Notes to Editors:

The BNF, a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, is used daily by over 200,000 health professionals, with an updated version published every six months. It is an up-to-date resource, for rapid reference by practicing healthcare professionals, which encourages sensible, cost-effective and safe use of medicines.

The BNF is available in print, on CD ROM (for intranet use), on PDAs, on the internet at, and as part of the MedicinesComplete collection of drug and healthcare reference resources.

For further information please contact:

Emma Dickinson

direct telephone: +44 (0)20 7383 6529

email: [email protected].

British Medical Journal

BMA House

Tavistock Square





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