(2004; 45 pages)
In certain countries it may not be possible to include prices for all products because of inflation and frequent changes in suppliers, or if the time taken to produce the formulary would result in outdated price information.
In such cases symbols or codes can be used to alert users to high-cost products or to show the relative costs of products, for example on a scale of cheapest = $ to most expensive = $$$$$, the following could be used: Salbutamol inhaler, price: $; Beclomethasone inhaler, price: $$$. However, this type of price banding system may not always be accurate and the following should be borne in mind:
• Careful monitoring is needed to ensure that price has not moved from one band to another.
• It may be difficult to judge the price in the top band if it is too broad, i.e. if prices vary by a factor of 10 or more.
In other countries the NFC may choose to publish actual prices (as in the British national formulary).
Instead of showing individual unit cost of products, therapy cost comparison charts can be useful and informative for specific therapies. They can show the cost of a full course, or the daily and monthly cost of therapy with a number of alternatives being compared on the same graph (Figure 4.3 shows an example). The inclusion of such price comparison charts is advisable when wide ranges of alternatives are available for the treatment of common conditions such as infectious diseases and cardiovascular conditions or for pain control.
Scheduling status and availability codes
Scheduling status and availability codes can be indicated by the use of codes or abbreviations. For example:
• Distribution code (Malawi national formulary, 1991):
C = central hospitals only;
D = district and central hospitals only;
H = health centres and all other levels of health institution.
• Prescribing category code (British national formulary, 47th ed., 2004)
PoM = prescription only medicine.
Codes for procurement, such as catalogue numbers necessary for ordering from the central medical store, priority codes as defined in a VEN system (Vital, Essential, Necessary priority), or symbols indicating eligibility for re-imbursement can also be useful.