Drug Status Key

  • Preferred
  • On Formulary
  • Specialist Initiation
  • Shared Care
  • Hospital Only
  • Under Review
  • New on System


  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary

Using the Formulary

This sample text is freely editable for each organisation.

The formulary is published in BNF chapters. It comprises a list of drugs recommended in each section. Each drug is categorised to facilitate prescribing choice.

The prescriber should always ensure they have the expertise to prescribe an agent before making the selection. In its guidelines on responsibility for prescribing between hospitals and general practitioners, the Department of Health has advised that legal responsibility for prescribing lies with the doctor who signs the prescription.

 Green: First line drugs - These drugs are recommended as first line agents and may be initiated in both primary and secondary care.

Blue: Second line drugs - These drugs are included as alternatives and may be initiated in both primary and secondary care.

Purple: Specialist initiated drugs - These are drugs where the need for specialist input has been identified. A specialist is not necessarily a consultant, rather a practitioner with specialist skills e.g. GP with Specialist Interest, Community Psychiatric nurse, Tissue Viability nurse.

Drugs will have “purple” status when: - A specialist starts treatment - A specialist provides advice for a specific patient

Red: Specialist prescribing only drugs – These drugs should only be prescribed by a specialist or within a specialist  service.

Additional guidance may be provided to help prescribers in notes following the drug entry. Key information from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence has been included with links to guidance where appropriate.

Reviewing the content of the Formulary

New drugs will be added to the formulary if they receive positive approval as part of a NICE Technology Appraisal Guideline (TAG). They will be added to the formulary by the end of the 90 day implementation period.

Drugs not subject to NICE TAG review can be considered for addition to the formulary by the East Sussex Medicines Pathway Committee on receipt of a formulary application from a primary or secondary care clinician or at the time of chapter review.

Each chapter is scheduled for review on a two year cycle, but may be sooner if compelling new evidence becomes available, or, for example, a drug is withdrawn. Any changes will be ratified by the East Sussex Medicines Pathway Committee.