Irrational use of medicines is a widespread problem at all levels of health care, but especially in hospitals. This is particularly worrying as resources are generally scarce and prescribers in communities often copy hospital prescribing practices. Use of medicines can be greatly improved and wastage reduced if some simple principles of drug management are followed. But it is difficult to implement these principles because staff from many different disciplines are involved, often with no forum for bringing them together to develop and implement appropriate medicines policies.
A drug and therapeutics committee (DTC) provides such a forum, allowing all the relevant people to work together to improve health care delivery, whether in hospitals or other health facilities. In many developed countries a well functioning DTC has been shown to be very effective in addressing drug use problems. However, in many developing countries DTCs do not exist and in others they do not function optimally, often due to lack of local expertise or a lack of incentives.
Drug and Therapeutics Committees: A Practical Guide provides guidance to doctors, pharmacists, hospital managers and other professionals who may be serving on DTCs and/or who are concerned with how to improve the quality and cost efficiency of therapeutic care. It is relevant for all kinds of DTCs - whether in public or private hospitals and whether at district or tertiary referral level.
This comprehensive manual covers a committee’s functions and structure, the medicines formulary process, and how to assess new medicines. The chapters on tools to investigate drug use and strategies to promote rational use are followed by a discussion of antimicrobial resistance and infection control. The publication concludes by explaining in detail how to start a committee or improve the effectiveness of an existing one.
The manual has been developed by the WHO Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy, in collaboration with the Rational Pharmaceutical Management Plus Program of Management Sciences for Health.