At its meeting in 1995, the Committee recommended that WHO develop a model formulary to complement the Model List and to act as a useful resource for countries wishing to develop their own national formulary (8). It was envisaged that such a model formulary would be updated every 2 years.
The Committee was informed of progress in the development of the WHO model formulary. Following a series of consultations (held in 1996, 1997 and 1999), the first draft had been completed at the end of 1999. In early 2000, it was agreed that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (which, together with the British Medical Association, publishes the British national formulary) would take responsibility for checking and finalizing the first edition of the WHO model formulary.
As part of the editorial process, all statements in the draft text were compared with the original references and checked for consistency with other WHO documents and recommendations, and against reputable drug information sources, including published regulatory information. A full record of this data validation exercise and all ensuing technical and editorial changes to the draft text, together with the underlying reasons for the changes and all relevant references, is available. When necessary, the text was updated to take into account new information that had become available since the time of the original drafting. In addition, monographs were included for the small number of essential medicines that had been added to the Model List at the meeting of the Committee held in November 1999 (2).
Although the initial intention was to maintain the section headings and numbering system of the Model List, this proved difficult in practice, largely because 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 WHO model formulary has also been generous in repeating the formulary text of those essential medicines that are listed under more than one therapeutic category. The lack of full concurrence with the numbering system of the Model List should not present a major problem. Users of the WHO model formulary will be able to access the information they require either through its contents list or through the main index (which includes both medicine names and disease terms).
The WHO model formulary will be made available in various electronic formats, including CD-ROM and via the Internet through the WHO Essential Medicines Library web site. The latter will contain electronic links to the Model List. The electronic version of the WHO model formulary is intended to serve as a starting point for countries and institutions wishing to develop their own formularies. National or institutional formulary committees can adapt the WHO model formu-lary to suit their own needs by altering the existing text or by aligning the WHO model formulary to their own list of essential medicines by adding or deleting entries.
At the time of the present meeting (April 2002), the first edition of the WHO model formulary was in its final stages of editing; electronic versions were expected to become available during 2002 (9). The Committee noted that the first draft of the WHO model formulary had been based on the 10th Model List (i.e. as revised in 1997) but had since been updated so as to be consistent with the 11th Model List (i.e. as revised in 1999). The Committee recommended that the WHO model formulary be further updated to reflect those changes made to the Model List by the Committee at its present meeting prior to its publication in final form.
Following a request from the WHO Secretariat, the Committee also recommended that Appendix 3 of the WHO model formulary concerning the suitability of medicines for use by breastfeeding mothers be updated, as it was based on an out-dated 1995 WHO publication, Breastfeeding and maternal medication (10).
It was not possible for the Committee to review the proposed formu-lary text for those medicines for which applications for inclusion in the Model List had been received at the present meeting (as required by the new procedures) owing to time constraints. However, the Committee recognized the evolving role of the WHO model formu-lary in relation to the Model List, and the need for countries to consider both when developing their own lists of essential medicines.