In 1995, the WHO Expert Committee on the Use of Essential Drugs recommended development of a WHO Model Formulary to complement the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs. It was considered that this would be a useful resource for countries wishing to develop their own national formulary.
In November 1999, the Expert Committee on the Use of Essential Drugs recommended that WHO accept an offer by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (which together with the British Medical Association, publishes the British National Formulary) to take responsibility for final data validation, editing and layout.
A full record has been made of the validation process and technical and editorial changes, with relevant references. This was the first edition of a new reference text and the work took almost two years to complete. During this process, the text was updated as necessary to take into account new information as it become available. Monographs were included for the essential drugs that had been added to the Model List in November 1999 and April 2002.
Although the initial plan was to maintain the section headings and numbering system of the Model List, this proved difficult in practice. The sections of the Model List are not always useful as therapeutic categories, and do not easily lend themselves to introductory evaluative statements. Small changes were therefore introduced. The Model Formulary has also been relatively generous in repeating the formulary text of essential drugs under other relevant therapeutic categories.
The lack of full concurrence with the numbering system of the Model List should not be a major problem for users who will be able to access information readily either through the content list or through the main index which includes both drug names and disease terms. Dissemination of the Model List and the Model Formulary will also take place via electronic access such as a CD-ROM or the WHO Medicines website, and will include electronic links between the Model Formulary and the Model List.
The electronic version of the Model Formulary is also intended as a starting point for developing national or institutional formularies which can adapt the text of the Model Formulary to their own needs by changing the text or aligning the formulary to their own list of essential drugs.
The Model Formulary is in press, and will be available from Distribution and Sales, World Health Organization, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. The electronic versions are expected to become available in the course of 2002 and will be posted on http://www.who.int/medicine