A new version of the British National Formulary has been launched in the UK and includes some important updates to guidance on the treatment and management of HIV, osteoporosis and irritable bowel syndrome, amongst others.

The BNF is published twice a year by the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and offers healthcare professionals a one-stop-shop of information regarding the best use of medicines.

The latest edition, BNF 57, includes updated information on the management of IBS, advising doctors to increase patients’ soluble fibre intake if necessary but stressing that bran should be avoided. It also recommends treating abdominal pain with a tricyclic antidepressant or a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor if the former is unsuitable.

Guidance on the treatment of HIV infection has been updated to take account of recommendations of the British HIV Association. Treatment should be initiated with two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, and regimens containing a boosted protease inhibitor should only be given to patients resistant to first-line therapy, those with psychiatric illnesses or women trying to get pregnant, the BNF states.

It has also extended its advice on lowering the cardiovascular risk to patients on antiretrovirals, to include information on monitoring plasma lipids and blood glucose.

In addition, recommendations for the prevention of osteoporotic fractures in post-menopausal women have been modified to include the latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Published in October last year, NICE's guidlines endorse the use of Procter & Gamble’s Actonel (risedronate) alongside the firm’s Didronel (etidronate), as the first alternative treatment option following generic alendronate. Strontium ranelate is recommended as a second alternative therapy for women who cannot take bisphosphonate drugs.