The WHO Expert Committee on the Use of Essential Drugs met in Geneva from 15 to 19 April 2002. The meeting was opened on behalf of the Director-General by Dr J. Quick, Director, Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy, who drew attention to the fact that 2002 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs (the Model List). He mentioned that this was an especially significant meeting, not only because it would be the first to operate under new procedures but also because it would be required to discuss several important issues, such as the application for the inclusion in the Model List of a number of antiretroviral medicines for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immu-nodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). The Committee would also be required to report to the Director-General on progress in the implementation of the new procedures and to suggest future improvements.
The Secretary informed participants that following a request from the WHO Secretariat, the Committee had agreed to hold an open session as part of its present meeting (see section 2). The reason for the open session was to allow all stakeholders to participate in discussions and to comment on issues relating to the WHO Model List of Essential Drugs. For Expert Committee members, it created an opportunity to receive first-hand additional information and opinions on matters under consideration. Participants were assured that the discussions and considerations of the open session would be reflected in the report of the meeting. A summary of the Committee’s meeting report would be submitted to the WHO Executive Board in January 2003, together with a statement on the public health implications of its recommendations.
In a change from the format adopted for previous reports, the Committee decided to present the updated version of the Model List (the 12th) as an annex to its meeting report (Annex 1). In addition to a full set of explanatory notes, Annex 1 provides background information relating to the development and use of the Model List. Supporting evidence for the safety and efficacy of those medicines that were recommended for inclusion at the present meeting is summarized in Annex 2.