The rational use of medicines means that patients receive medicines appropriate for their clinical needs, in doses that meet their individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and their community. Irrational drug use by prescribers and consumers is a very complex and widespread problem, which calls for the implementation of many different interventions at the same time. Efforts to promote rational use of medicines should also cover the use of traditional and herbal medicines. Key policy issues include:
• Mandated multidisciplinary national body to coordinate medicine use policies;
• Development of clinical guidelines as the basis for the selection of essential medicines and training of health professionals;
• Problem-based training in pharmacotherapy in undergraduate training;
• Continuing in-service medical education as a licensure requirement;
• Independent and unbiased medicine information;
• Public education about medicines;
• Avoidance of perverse financial incentives to prescribers and dispensers.