Intended for healthcare professionals


A prescription for better prescribing

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 31 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:459
  1. Jeffrey K Aronson, president elect (,
  2. Graeme Henderson, president,
  3. David J Webb, Chairman of the committee of heads and professors of clinical pharmacology,
  4. Michael D Rawlins, professor
  1. British Pharmacological Society, London EC1V 2SC
  2. British Pharmacological Society, London EC1V 2SC
  3. Wolfson Unit of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH

    Many medical students are unprepared for skilled prescribing

    It's that time of year again. The new junior members of staff have arrived and the old anxiety emerges—are they well trained? In particular, are they properly trained in practical drug therapy and prescribing? We believe they may not be.

    In July we drew attention, yet again, to what we and many others perceive to be a serious problem in British medicine—poor prescribing.w1 w2 We emphasised that deficiencies are not confined to the United Kingdom, and three days later the Institute of Medicine in the United States independently expressed similar concerns.w3 The chairman of the medical academic staff committee of the British Medical Association later concurred,w4 and the Healthcare Commission urged the NHS to improve prescribing.w5

    Evidence of poor prescribing in the UK is abundant. Effective treatments, such as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors for heart failure1 and …

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