The commencement of the provisionally-registered pharmacist (PRP) training program is always daunting. It is more so if the trainee wishes to complete the program with flying colours. The work nature of a pharmacist revolves largely around the provision of detailed drug information to the relevant party in a timely fashion. In this article, we list the seven must-have reference books to kick-start the PRP training program.

1. Formulari Ubat Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia

Undoubtedly, this is one of the most important references any PRP will depend on during their training. The national drug formulary is more commonly known as the "Blue Book" due to its characteristic blue cover. It is available in both hardcover copy or as a downloadable .pdf file.

The formulary lists all drugs that are currently licensed for use in all health institutions under the Malaysian Ministry of Health. In addition to general information such as indications and dosages, the formulary also contains the “Prescriber category” for all drugs. This is vital information for pharmacists as it describes doctors’ accessibility to specialised drugs. For example, if a particular drug is labelled as “A”, only a specialist can prescribe it. This separation of prescribing authority is essential to ensure efficient use of these specialised drugs and to prevent abuse.

2. MIMS Pharmacy

The reference book MIMS Pharmacy is part of the MIMS publication portfolio and is one of the must-have books for those who will start their PRP training in the community setting.

The book is updated on an annual basis, and contains extensive information on almost all items commonly found in a community pharmacy. Particularly useful information include manufacturers’ and distributors details (listed by the brand names). This information will be handy for trainee pharmacists when they learn about stock procurement and branded-generic drug substitution.

3. National Antibiotic Guideline

Antibiotics are one of the most widely prescribed medication, and they are also most easily abused or misused. Healthcare professionals should already understand the severity of antibiotic resistance, and the magnitude of destruction this phenomenon will bring about should it becomes out-of-control.

The National Antibiotic Guideline was launched by the Ministry of Health to guide healthcare professionals in their choices of antimicrobial agents. The guideline aims to improve appropriate prescribing of antimicrobials for the right indication, right dosage and right duration. All PRPs are encouraged to read, and get themselves familiarised with the guideline information, at least for commonly seen illnesses. However, it is important to remember that local microbial sensitivity pattern may differ, and should be taken into consideration before making any recommendation to other colleagues.

4. British National Formulary (BNF)

The BNF is a very handy reference, and it has been the favourite book for many pharmacists due to it being small in size and its concise information. The BNF contains almost all information a pharmacist will need during his/her daily work, including a detailed description of indications, dosages, cautions, side-effects and contraindications for most drugs. The BNF also features comprehensive coverage on drug's suitability for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

5. Paediatric Protocol for Malaysian Hospitals

The paediatric protocol was first published with the altruistic aspiration to provide a reference protocol for all doctors, especially House Officers, to handle common paediatric emergencies. The protocol proved to be very popular and the third edition is now available. Although it was primarily produced for our medical colleagues, pharmacists will find this very useful in their practice as well. The chapters on drugs dosages and related information on paediatric population are especially valuable.

6. Drug Doses by Frank Shann

The little booklet “Drug Doses” produced by Professor Frank Shann from the Royal’s Children Hospital, Melbourne has helped many pharmacists and physicians to accurately prescribe medicine to children. The booklet is only slightly larger than a credit card and can be brought along in a very handy fashion. It contains detailed information on drug dosages adjusted for use in paediatric patients for both oral and injectable drugs.

7. Sarawak Emergency Handbook

The handbook is another popular reference book among pharmacists and doctors alike. It was designed to provide a quick yet reliable reference to managing a wide spectrum of medical cases. The handbook focuses on the practical aspects of clinical management, therefore, it does not contain much information on the theoretical background of disease. The easy-to-understand algorithms on drug therapies are much prized among clinical pharmacists.  MIMS

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