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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Doctors get child medicines help
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Prescribing for children can be difficult
An encyclopaedia of drugs for children will soon be available to help in the prescription of UK medicines.

Currently, prescribers have to rely on their best judgement when deciding what drug and dose to give to children, often based only on adult data.

Around 40% of medicines prescribed to anyone under the age of 18 have never actually been tested on children.

From September, medics will be able to refer to the BNF for Children, written by child health experts, for guidance.

It will be the most comprehensively researched paediatric medicines information source in the world
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

The aim of BNF (British National Formulary) for Children is to provide a practical, relevant and authoritative information source for all health professionals involved in the drug therapy of children.

The publication covers newborn babies, infants, children and adolescents up to 18 years of age.

It is written by experts from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group, the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Like the adult version, which has been available for many years, the BNF for Children will undergo continuous revision and a new edition will be produced each year.

Topics that will be covered include guidance on calculating paediatric doses and identifying and reporting adverse reactions to medicines in children.

Prescribers could also be given advice on prescribing medicines that are not licensed for children - so-called "off-label" prescribing.

A spokeswoman from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: "Information on the right dose to suit a child's age and medical condition is often not easily available to the individual prescribing for a child.

"The BNF for Children will be the new essential reference guide for the safe and effective use of medicines for children. It will be the most comprehensively researched paediatric medicines information source in the world."




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