National Policy on Traditional Medicine and Regulation of Herbal Medicines - Report of a WHO Global Survey
(2005; 168 pages) View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentExecutive summary
View the documentAcronyms, abbreviations and definitions
View the documentWHO Regions
Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. National policy on traditional medicine and complementary/alternative medicine
Close this folder3. The regulatory situation of herbal medicines
View the document3.1 Law or regulation on herbal medicines
View the document3.2 Regulatory status of herbal medicines
View the document3.3 Claims
View the document3.4 Pharmacopoeias
View the document3.5 Monographs on herbal medicines
View the document3.6 Manufacture of herbal medicines
View the document3.7 Safety and herbal medicines
View the document3.8 Registration system for herbal medicines
View the document3.9 Herbal medicines and the essential drug list
View the document3.10 Post marketing surveillance of herbal medicines
View the document3.11 The sale of herbal medicines
View the document3.12 Annual market sales of herbal medicines
Open this folder and view contents4. Member States, WHO and herbal medicines
Open this folder and view contents5. Country summaries
View the documentReferences
View the documentAnnex 1. Text of survey instrument

3.9 Herbal medicines and the essential drug list

An essential drug list, as defined by the WHO document Indicators for monitoring national drug policies (5) is “a booklet containing all the drugs approved for use in the public sector. In certain cases, there is one booklet, which contains all the drugs agreed for all health care levels. In others, there are lists/booklets by level of use (tertiary, secondary, primary care). The booklet may contain additional information on each of the drugs. In certain countries the essential drug list may also apply to the private sector … the list should be officially approved by the ministry of health, should be written using INN and distributed widely in the public sector. The international nonproprietary name (INN) is the shortened scientific name based on the active ingredient; WHO is responsible for assigning INN to pharmaceutical substances”.

Member States were asked whether herbal medicines are included in the national essential drug list. One hundred and thirty-three countries answered this question, with 22 countries (16%) indicating that herbal medicines are included on the essential drug list (Figure 35). However, Member States were not asked whether they have a national essential drug list at all, therefore some Member States that answered no herbal medicines were included did so because they have no existing national essential drug list for any medicines. Follow up information was requested about the number of herbal medicines included on the list and the year of issue of the essential drug list (Figure 36 and Figure 37).

Figure 35. Herbal medicines included on a national essential drug list

Of the 22 countries reporting the inclusion of herbal medicines on their essential drug list, 18 provided the number of herbal medicines listed (see Figure 35). The majority of countries had listed between one and 10 herbal medicines; however, a number of countries reported including more than 100 medicines. At the extreme end, China reported 1 242 herbal medicines listed on its essential drug list. An average of 165 herbal medicines was listed.

Figure 36. Number of herbal medicines included on essential drug list

Fifteen countries reported the year of issue for the essential drug list; 12 countries provided a copy of the list (Figure 37). The clear trend is for essential drug lists that include herbal medicines to have been issued in the most recent period, from 2000 to 2003. It is not clear, however, whether herbal medicines represent as recent an inclusion as such figures may suggest.

Figure 37. Number of Member States with herbal medicines on essential drug list, by year

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