Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook; 2004.
788 pages. Price $152; students $99; plus postage

The latest edition is a well presented and simple to use, practical formulary of most of the drugs currently marketed in Australia. As with previous editions, the information is well researched and reflects current and reliable sources. The new edition provides several new sections including HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tinnitus, macular degeneration, functional dyspepsia and prostatitis.

The handbook is organised broadly according to organ systems and clinical presentations. Each section provides an overview of the clinical problem and the general considerations involved in treatment, including a brief summary of the available classes of medication. It subsequently presents a monograph of each class of medication which includes comparative information between medications within that class and specific practice points. The handbook then details the key features particular to each of the drugs within that class including specific indications and dosage.

The presentation of the information makes the handbook a useful tool for quick reference during clinical practice. The logic and consistency of the format of each section makes the relevant information easy to find and quick to read.

The Preface suggests that the handbook may be used as a learning tool for students - the clinical approach would provide a good structure for students to base their learning upon. However, the information has been well summarised and medical students are likely to need more detailed references.

I found this book to be a useful and practical addition to the available information resources for general practice. Its compact size makes it portable enough to carry to home visits and on the ward. It is a well designed tool to support the practice of evidence-based medicine.

Tracy Soh

General practitioner, Canberra