Briefing – Local formularies in the NHS

Our position​

Medicines that are subject to national guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) or All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) in the form of technology appraisals or as part of clinical guidelines should automatically be placed directly onto local NHS formularies, without any further local evaluation or formulary approval processes being conducted.

There should be no further local modification or reinterpretation of national decisions about medicines. This will help ensure that all NHS patients consistently benefit from those medicines which have been demonstrated to be clinically and cost-effective, according to internationally-recognised standards of evaluation.

Medicines that are not the subject of national guidance may appropriately be evaluated for local formulary inclusion. The processes used for local formulary management should reflect established best practice principles. These principles include:

  • Ensuring that fair, transparent and robust processes are in place
  • Publishing the selection criteria used for evaluation
  • Using the latest available evidence for decision-making
  • Involving companies early on and throughout the formulary process.

Best practice in local medicines decision-making has been captured by the National Prescribing Centre (NPC) on behalf of the Department of Health, and we would recommend use of the following publications by NHS customers who are managing formulary development:

  • Defining guiding principles for processes supporting local decisionmaking about medicines (January 2009)
  • Supporting rational local decision-making about medicines (and treatments) (February 2009)
  • Managing medicines across a health community (November 2009).

Further information

Download the ABPI's full briefing paper – Local formularies in the NHS (PDF, 49KB) 

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