Term: Formulary

Italics = Update by Julius Elfe


A formulary is a list of medicines that doctors use to prescribe patients the appropriate medications. Formularies check to make sure that the drugs offered are of high quality and are effective. Formularies also reduce the cost of prescription drugs, because the cost of these drugs continues to keep rising. Formularies are updated continuously through the latest research done by our doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Most of the time doctors will prescribe patient’s medicine based off the list in the formulary.

The American Pharmaceutical Association issued a formulary for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and the National Formulary. This formulary provides a list of the composition, description, the way in which the drug was prepared and dosage for drugs. In 1820, the United States Pharmacopeia was established. The USP contains the legal standards for the quality and packaging of drug substances. In 1888, the National Formulary was established which included the standards for excipients and botanicals. In 1975 the United States Pharmacopeia purchased the National Formulary, which combined the two.

Formulary is just a list of medicines and traditionally a formulary was a collective of formulas used for testing and compounding medication. Now, a prescriptive formulary specifies which medications are allowed to be prescribed under different insurance policies. These formularies are developed after evaluations based on safety, cost-effectiveness, and efficacy.

Here in the US, formularies help manage drug costs within insurance policies. This makes it more afforadble for patients and formulary management promotes cost-effective drugs for any scenario or condition. These formularies are under the United States Pharmacopeia.


A Fingertip Formulary is a mobile phone application and a web interface. It allows users to gain access to the most updated status of any health plan in the database and access to the most up to date clinical drug information. The application allows users to store a list of the top drugs and plans they use in their profile. This application is available to download for free from the iTunes Application Store.

An online database called GroupHealth allows individuals to search a drug formulary for medications. There is a search field for users to search for the drug by the brand name or the generic game. A user can also search by the therapeutic class for the drug, which contains the drug group and the drug class.

Various medication searches applications have been created for various pharmacy plans. These searches allows you to look up among a drug list and contains the different formularies.

An application named Epocrates has an app where you can select formularies which is similar to the Fingertip Formulary mentioned above. It allows you to find up-to-date information on the status of any formulary on any plan.

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Related Terminology:
Drug Formulary: shows an individual a list of prescription drugs that are available to them through their health plan.

National Formulary: gives the composition, description, method of preparation and the dosage for drugs.