Ham van den, R. Selection of Essential Medicines – a background paper for the World Medicines Situation 2010 report. Utrecht University, WHO CC for Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmaceutical Policy Analysis, 2009.
This paper will cover some of the issues concerning the selection of medicines for an essential medicines list (EML) and will serve as the background document for Chapter 10 on Selection of Essential Medicines of the World Medicines Situation 2010 Report. The chapter is aimed at being particularly useful for the national director of pharmaceutical services, and also for the chairman and members of the Expert Committee on Selection and their advisors who are responsible for selecting the essential medicines for their country. First, the paper will provide an overview of the present situation. It will describe what the current status of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (WHO Model EML) is and in which way countries use it in developing their own EML’s. To evaluate this, a comparative analysis with a selection of the EML’s of countries and the WHO Model EML 2005 has been done and the results of this analysis will be discussed. To give insight into the development of the WHO Model EML over time, we will provide the results of a comparative analysis of the WHO Model EML by year since 1977. Finally, a number of the challenges and issues in selection of essential medicines are tackled. These include essential medicines for children, essential medicines that help improve reproductive health, essential cancer medicines and the challenges of an evidence based process of selection of medicines. This paper is the product of a six months research project in collaboration with the Department of Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policy (WHO) and the Department of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacotherapy (UU). The research project is a part of the masters degree Pharmaceutical Science.