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News - 13 Jun 2012

NICE launches free British National Formulary Smartphone App for NHS England

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today launched a free British National Formulary (BNF) Smartphone application for download by health and social care professionals who work for or who are contracted by NHS England.

The new app is called NICE BNF and has been developed to provide easy access to the latest up-to-date prescribing information from the BNF - the most widely-used medicines information resource within the NHS.

The NICE BNF app is available to download for free to health and care professionals via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Users will need to enter their NHS Athens user name and password to activate the app and download the content.

Once downloaded and activated, the app does not rely on a network connection and will provide direct offline access to the latest version of the BNF. An app for the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC) is in the late stages of development and will be released soon.

Eligible professionals who do not yet have an NHS Athens password can register for free online at or directly from their Smartphone by following the instruction displayed in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Announcing the launch of the NICE BNF app, Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE Chief Executive, said:

"Ensuring staff have access to the latest high quality information to deliver the best possible patient care has always been very important to NICE. The growing use of Smartphones has created a new culture and means for people to access information while on the move. The NICE Guidance app we launched earlier in the year has been phenomenally successful and we believe that health and care professionals will love our BNF app too. It looks great and is easy to use. And because you don't need internet access once the app is downloaded, professionals can be reassured they can get access to the BNF wherever they may be delivering care".

Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health, said:

"I am delighted NICE have taken this step to provide prescribers with a free and modern way to access this essential resource. The new NICE BNF app gives those who have prescribing and medicines responsibilities fast, reliable and convenient access to the most up-to-date prescribing information - ensuring medicines continue to be administered and used safely and accurately."

Duncan Enright, Publishing Director of the BNF, said:

"We have been working with NICE for three years now and it is good to see this bear fruit in the form of this latest BNF app. We know from previous BNF apps that there is an appetite for BNF on mobile devices.

"The NICE BNF app is a good way to keep up with the most up-to-date prescribing guidance."

Notes to Editors:

NICE has a licensing agreement with the publishers of the BNF and BNFC - the British Medical Association, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - to provide free and open access for the NHS to BNF and BNFC online via its NHS Evidence service ( and to make the BNF available through mobile applications. NICE also purchases printed copies of the BNF and BNFC for distribution to professionals within the NHS who have a prescribing responsibility.

About BNF publications
The BNF and BNFC are joint publications of the British Medical Association, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group. The BNF and BNFC are used by all healthcare professionals involved in using medicines. An updated version is published in print form every six months. It is a resource used for rapid reference by practising healthcare professionals which supports effective and safe selection and use of medicines.

The BNF and BNFC are available on the internet at and at, in digital formats suitable for standalone computers and intranets, for use on mobile devices, and as part of the Medicines Complete collection of drug and healthcare reference resources. The BNF is also available in print format.

Market research has shown that the BNF is the single preferred source of medicines information by 81% of healthcare professionals working with medicines (Kantar Health, 2010).

About NHS Athens

More than 285,000 NHS and social care staff already have an Athens account, and registration is free. Athens also provides online access to a wide range of databases of evidence and hundreds of other journals.

Eligible staff who do not have an NHS Athens account may register online at For additional support with online journals and other electronic information resources, staff should contact their local library service via

About NICE

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance and standards on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.

NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments, medical technologies (including devices and diagnostics) and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.

NICE produces standards for patient care:

  • quality standards - these reflect the very best in high quality patient care, to help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care deliver excellent services
  • Quality and Outcomes Framework - NICE develops the clinical and health improvement indicators in the QOF, the Department of Health scheme which rewards GPs for how well they care for patients.

NICE provides advice and support on putting NICE guidance and standards into practice through its implementation programme, and it collates and accredits high quality health guidance, research and information to help health professionals deliver the best patient care through NHS Evidence.

The Medicines and Prescribing Centre at NICE

With the integration of the former National Prescribing Centre into NICE. NICE now offer a comprehensive suite of advice and support for delivering quality, safety, and efficiency in the use of medicines.

The Medicines and Prescribing Centre at NICE provides support for medicines and prescribing through:

· Advice on medicines optimisation including support for QIPP

· Specific medicines advice, for example on unlicensed and off-label drugs

· Practical tools and materials to aid implementation.

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