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Balanced prescribing is a process that recommends a medicine appropriate to the patient's condition and, within the limits created by the uncertainty that attends therapeutic decisions, a dosage regimen that optimizes the balance of benefit to harm. The essential steps in achieving this are (a) careful attention to the history, examination, and investigation of the patient's condition and drug therapy, (b) accurate diagnosis, (c) detailed attention to prescribing the dosage regimen in the light of the therapeutic goal, (d) careful writing of the prescription and (e) regular monitoring of therapy, including attention to beneficial outcomes, adverse reactions, and patient adherence. The two major requirements in determining the dosage regimen are (1) understanding the pathophysiology of a health problem and matching it to the mechanisms of action of the relevant medicines and (2) assessing the benefit to harm balance of the therapy, although the difficulties in doing this in the individual are great. Major challenges in prescribing include provision of adequate education for all prescribers early in their undergraduate training and maintaining their expertise after graduation, obtaining evidence to inform appropriate monitoring of therapy, reducing the incidence of medication errors, and providing high quality information that will at the same time guide prescribing decisions and be sufficiently flexible to allow prescribers to tailor therapy to the needs of the individual patient. Careful attention to all facets of prescribing can improve the chances of benefit, reduce the risks of adverse reactions and interactions, and enhance adherence to therapy. © 2012 The Author. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology © 2012 The British Pharmacological Society.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

Publication Date





566 - 572