NICE and the BNF

The British National Formulary (BNF) is the most widely used medicines information resource in the UK. NICE is committed to ensuring NHS staff have access to the latest high quality information to deliver the best possible patient care and provides access to the British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary (BNFC) for eligible health and social care professionals.

Our current contract with the British Medical Association, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health; the three organisations who together publish the BNF, BNFC and Nurse Prescribers Formulary (NPF) runs until 2021.

BNF and BNFC online

Content from the BNF and BNFC can be accessed via the NICE website and is openly accessible to anyone in the UK.


NICE’s BNF and BNFC apps have been developed to provide easy access to the latest up-to-date prescribing information from the most widely-used medicines information resources within the NHS.

Both the BNF and BNFC apps can be downloaded for free by health and social care professionals who work for or who are contracted by the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales.

To use the NICE BNF and NICE BNFC apps for the first time and to activate any content updates users need to enter their NHS OpenAthens user name and password.

Eligible professionals in England who do not yet have an NHS OpenAthens password can register for free online or directly from their smartphone by following the instructions displayed in the apple app Store and Google Play Store.

Key features of the BNF apps

  • Updated monthly.
  • Information and advice on the drug management of common conditions.
  • Details of medicines prescribed within the UK with reference to their uses, cautions, contra-indications, side-effects, doses and relative costs.
  • Advice on prescribing, monitoring, dispensing and administering medicines.
  • Search for drugs by name using the auto-complete search.
  • Receive notifications when new editions or updates are available.
  • Bookmark content for easy access.

NICE’s BNF and BNFC apps and BNF and BNFC content on NICE Evidence Search are updated monthly, unlike the print version, making them the easiest way to keep up-to-date.

Clinicians are increasingly choosing to access the BNF in digital formats. Monthly visits to the NICE BNF website have increased by more than 4 times over the last 12 months to reach a figure of over 461,000 in March 2016.  Visits to the NICE BNF app also reached over 400,000 in March 2016.

This year we have been working on the redevelopment of the NICE BNF website

to provide a faster, easier to use digital service, more closely integrated to NICE’s content. The new website will launch in summer 2016.


Also in summer 2016 the NICE BNF and NICE BNFC apps will be replaced by apps produced by the BNF. The new BNF apps will include enhanced BNF and BNFC content as well as improved functionality. As part of the contract with NICE the new BNF app will provide open, free access without the need for an Athens password, for any health and social care professionals based in the UK, including those in Northern Ireland.

We expect to see further acceleration in digital access to the BNF and BNFC as a result of these developments and as enabling technology becomes more widespread in the NHS.

In print

Print editions of the BNF and BNFC are distributed annually by NICE to prescribers working in the NHS and other organisations that provide NHS-commissioned care in England. We also provide the NPF to community practitioner nurse prescribers in England. In order to achieve clinical consistency between the products the annual publication of print BNFC and NPF moved to September in 2015 to coincide with the publication of the BNF.