Green Light for WHO Drug Strategy. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 003 (1986)
(1986; 3 pages)


At the World Health Assembly in May 1986, the new World Health Organization Revised Drug Strategy was approved by consensus. The Revised Drug Strategy is a wide-ranging “manifestation of international – not supranational – action” aimed at rationalizing drug use throughout the world. The Strategy has three main components: coordination by WHO to encourage all parties to discharge their responsibilities cooperatively, operations promoting the Action Programme on Essential Drugs and its implementation in all member states, and intensified WHO normative functions. The estimated cost of the Strategy was an additional US $5 million per year. Topics raised during discussion on the strategy include the high cost of pharmaceutical raw materials, development of promotional materials for the Programme, ethical drug promotion, and the responsibilities of the pharmaceutical industry. Many representatives also asked that pharmacists be explicitly mentioned as part of the strategy because of their potential influence on the public. As a result, the Strategy was revised to say “health personnel involved in prescription, dispensing, supply, and distribution”. The WHO responded to the discussion by promising full support for economic and technical cooperation among developing countries on drugs and the provision of information on existing national drug policies and current legislation to governments looking to develop their own policies. The WHO also released a model formulary as an example that can be adapted by each country. Although the WHO has pledged its support to individual governments, the WHO encouraged governments to rely on national institutions for post-marketing surveillance and stated it is the government’s responsibility to decide how to use the criteria. The Essential Drugs Monitor’s article also includes a detailed description of the Revised Drug Strategy and an explanation of the role of three non-governmental organizations. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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