This glossary gives definitions of the main terms used in the manual and is specific to it. The definitions are not necessarily those used elsewhere.
Advertising: any activity used by manufacturers and distributors, the effect of which is to induce the prescription, supply, purchase and/or use of drugs. It can be directed to physicians, health-related professionals and the general public.
Affordability: drugs are available to the population at a price they can pay.
Availability of essential drugs: patients have access to drugs but this does not mean that they can be afforded by the majority of the population.
Basket of drugs: a representative number of drugs selected to obtain specific information: the selection will depend on what it is wished to measure/observe.
CIF price: the price of the drugs at the port of entry.
Combination drug: a drug with more than one active ingredient.
Competitive tender: a procedure for procuring drugs which puts a number of suppliers into competition. Purchasing is done on the basis of quotations submitted by the suppliers in response to a public notice.
Continuing education system: a system based on regular workshops, seminars and in-service training which provides all prescribers and dispensers with refresher courses on drug issues.
Drug information unit or centre: an organization within or outside the ministry of health which collects and provides objective information on drugs to health personnel and the public.
Drug legislation: the legal conditions under which pharmaceutical activities should be organized in line with the national drug policy.
Drug outlet: a place (public or private) where drugs are legally dispensed or sold.
Drug registration committee: in general, an advisory committee to the national drug regulatory agency on matters relating to registration of drugs and cancellation or suspension of such registration, based on evaluation of the quality, safety, efficacy and usefulness of the products.
Effectiveness: an expression of the degree to which activities have produced the effects planned.
Efficiency: the relationship between the results of activities and the corresponding effort expended in terms of money, resources and time.
Ex-factory price: the price of locally produced drugs when leaving the factory.
Financing systems: any systems which, in the public sector, contribute to the provision of drugs by charging patients or the community. These systems can include out-of-pocket payments (e.g. user charges) or voluntary health insurance. They can cover all or part of the costs of the drugs.
Generic substitution: practice of substituting a product, whether marketed under a trade name or generic name, by an equivalent product, usually a cheaper one, containing the same active ingredient(s).
Independent drug bulletin: any bulletin which is recognized by the national scientific community as not being influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, and as providing unbiased drug information.
International aid: any major support for the provision of drugs whether in cash or in kind.
International nonproprietary name: the shortened scientific name based on the active ingredient. WHO is responsible for assigning INN to pharmaceutical substances.
Licensing system: provisions on who should import drugs, what qualifications people in the importing agency should have and who should dispense and sell drugs.
National drug policy document: an officially approved document which should be widely available. It should contain not only the key objectives of the national policy but also the main strategies proposed by the government for achieving these objectives.
National list of essential drugs: the list which has been defined, adopted and published at country level. It normally covers all health facilities, including the main hospitals.
National therapeutic guide: a manual which for each disease contains the main diagnostic steps and reference treatments.
Operating budget: all expenditures which are not capital costs/investments and which occur periodically (i.e. salaries, drugs, national programmes, etc.).
Prescribers: every health worker who prescribes: doctors, nurses, midwives, etc.
Price regulations: any regulation set up by government to control drug prices. This control can be direct or indirect and includes: setting of fixed margins at various levels (wholesalers, retailers), reimbursement control (positive lists, reference prices, percentage of co-payment), ceiling price, etc.
Public drug budget: the total amount of money spent on pharmaceutical products by the government through the ministry of health, other ministries and hospitals.
Public education campaign on drugs: any programme or campaign conducted at local or national level by the ministry of health, by other ministries or by other bodies aimed at increased awareness on drug issues and improvements in the use of drugs by the public.
Public finance: general government revenues and compulsory health insurance (sometimes known as social insurance) that is either publicly managed or heavily regulated by governments. Private finance includes out-of-pocket payments and voluntary health insurance.
Regulations: the second stage of legislative procedures, specifically designed to provide the legal machinery to achieve the administrative and technical goals.
Reliability: even if an indicator is used by different people at different times and under different circumstances, the results will be the same.
Reliable quantification of drug needs: a careful evaluation of the quantities needed of each drug, based on either adjusted past consumption or anticipated pattern of diseases and standard treatment.
Remote health facility: a facility which is situated at a distance of more than 100 km from a city of more than 100,000 inhabitants. However, the definition can be adapted to each country context.
Retail price: the price of the drug to the consumer.
Sanction or administrative measure: any measure which should have been taken according to the regulations for each of the violations identified by inspectors and reflected in the inspection reports.
System for monitoring drug prices: any system which provides information on prices of all the drugs or of certain drugs on a regular basis.
System for monitoring supplier performance: a system which provides information on the past performances of each supplier.
Therapeutic committee: a group of scientists, members of the hospital community, such as pharmacologists, clinicians, pharmacists, etc.
Training session: any meeting, workshop, seminar, etc. in which problems related to the rational use of drugs are discussed. Only those organized by the public sector (i.e. ministry of health) and/or non-profit institutions and/or professional organizations (i.e. medical associations) are considered as training sessions.
Validity: an indicator should actually measure what it is supposed to measure.
Violation: any specification or action not conforming to the regulations.