Promoting Rational Use of Medicines: Core Components - WHO Policy Perspectives on Medicines, No. 005, September 2002
(2002; 6 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentDefinition of rational use of medicines
View the documentThe problem of irrational use
View the documentAssessing the problem of irrational use
View the documentWorking towards rational use of medicines
Close this folderCore policies to promote more rational use of medicines
View the document1. A mandated multi-disciplinary national body to coordinate medicine use policies
View the document2. Clinical guidelines
View the document3. Essential medicines list based on treatments of choice
View the document4. Drugs and therapeutics committees in districts and hospitals
View the document5. Problem-based training in pharmacotherapy in undergraduate curricula
View the document6. Continuing in-service medical education as a licensure requirement
View the document7. Supervision, audit and feedback
View the document8. Independent medicine information
View the document9. Public education about medicines
View the document10. Avoidance of perverse financial incentives
View the document11. Appropriate and enforced regulation
View the document12. Sufficient government expenditure to ensure availability of medicines and staff
View the documentKey documents
View the documentContacts at WHO Headquarters

3. Essential medicines list based on treatments of choice

Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.

Using an essential medicines list (EML) makes medicine management easier in all respects; procurement, storage and distribution are easier with fewer items, and prescribing and dispensing are easier for professionals if they have to know about fewer items. A national EML should be based upon national clinical guidelines. Medicine selection should be done by a central committee with an agreed membership and using explicit, previously agreed criteria, based on efficacy, safety, quality, cost (which will vary locally) and cost-effectiveness, EMLs should be regularly updated and their introduction accompanied by an official launch, training and dissemination. Public sector procurement and distribution of medicines should be limited primarily to those medicines on the EML, and it must be ensured that only those health workers approved to use certain medicines are actually supplied with them. Government activities in the pharmaceutical sector (e.g. quality assurance, insurance reimbursement policies and training), should focus on the EML. The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines can provide a starting point for countries to develop their own national EML.

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