How to Develop and Implement a National Drug Policy (Second Edition)
(2001; 96 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentContributors
View the documentAbbreviations and acronyms
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contentsPart I: How to develop and implement a national drug policy
Close this folderPart II: Key components of a national drug policy
Open this folder and view contents4. Selection of essential drugs
Open this folder and view contents5. Affordability
Open this folder and view contents6. Drug financing
Open this folder and view contents7. Supply systems
Close this folder8. Drug regulation
View the document8.1 Need for drug regulation and quality assurance
View the document8.2 Basic requirements for drug regulation
View the document8.3 Core elements of drug regulation
View the document8.4 Stepwise approach to drug registration
View the document8.5 Quality
View the document8.6 Safety
View the document8.7 Efficacy
View the document8.8 Information and drug promotion
View the document8.9 Information exchange with WHO and with other agencies
Open this folder and view contents9. Rational use of drugs
Open this folder and view contents10. Research
Open this folder and view contents11. Human resources development
Open this folder and view contents12. Monitoring and evaluation
View the documentReferences
View the documentSelected WHO publications and documents of related interest
View the documentBack cover

8.1 Need for drug regulation and quality assurance

The drug regulatory authority (DRA) is the agency that develops and implements most of the legislation and regulations on pharmaceuticals. Its main task is to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of drugs, and the accuracy of product information. This is done by making certain that the manufacture, procurement, import, export, distribution, supply and sale of drugs, product promotion and advertising, and clinical trials are carried out according to specified standards. Several of these functions also contribute to efforts to promote rational drug use (see Chapter 9).

Drugs of poor quality can have serious health and economic consequences. There are many ways in which the quality of a drug may be unacceptable or poor. Drugs may not contain the right active ingredients in the quantities stated on the label; they may contain no active ingredient at all, or contain substances that could be harmful. The quality may have deteriorated because of poor storage conditions, contamination or repackaging; or the drug may simply have passed its expiry date.

Apart from the medical consequences of ineffective treatments or toxic effects, money is wasted because of the extra costs to the health care system. Considerable wastage may also occur if drugs are not packaged and stored properly, so that new stocks must be procured. There is also a more general psychological effect. If people do not have confidence in the quality of the drugs they receive, they may lose confidence in the drug policy and the health services as a whole.

In recent years, national and international authorities have recognized the presence of substandard and counterfeit drugs as a growing challenge to those involved in quality assurance. Some of this development is linked to trends towards liberalization and globalization of trade. It is a real challenge for a regulatory control system to prevent the procurement, marketing and use of such drugs. WHO has developed guidelines on measures to combat counterfeit drugs.44

to previous section
to next section
The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: December 6, 2017