Background Maltese healthcare professionals use the British National Formulary (BNF) as the main source of reference for medicinal products. However, a number of products which are available on the local market are not listed in the BNF. The Maltese Medicines Handbook is a handbook designed to include medicinal products which are not listed in the BNF.
Purpose The aim was to update the formulary to its fourth version, launch an online version of the formulary and assess its use among healthcare professionals.
Material and methods Products authorised in Malta but not listed in the BNF were identified by comparing information on the Maltese Medicines List to that found in the BNF. Information concerning preparations to be included in the formulary was obtained from the SPC of the drugs and Martindale. Data included in the handbook version of the formulary were placed online. The final version was published and distributed to healthcare professionals. Evaluation of this version was conducted through questionnaires distributed to 30 healthcare professionals randomly chosen from all those who were given a copy.
Results The Medicines Authority list consisted of 4438 drug entries. When compared with the BNF, it was found that 629 products had their trade name, active ingredient or both not available in the BNF. From these 629 entries, 550 products had only their active ingredient listed and 79 had neither present in the BNF. 17 medical devices were included.
All the participants (n=30) found the formulary useful and the majority stated that they use it frequently. The presentation was highly acclaimed by all since all aspects were given a high score. Participants believed that the formulary was up to date and a great service to local healthcare professionals. All participants stated that the online version of the formulary was a good innovation, although the majority (n=22) preferred using the handbook version.
Conclusion Important suggestions considered for future similar studies include the additional information regarding ‘Cautionary and advisory labels’ and that the time of updating the handbook is decreased from 3 years to 2 years or less. The online version of the formulary can be accessed on http://www.maltesemedicineshandbook.com/
No conflict of interest
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