WHO updates list of lifesaving medicines for common diseases


GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) Friday published the new edition of its Model List of Essential Medicines, which includes ground-breaking new treatments for some common diseases, such as hepatitis C and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB).

The list is updated every two years by WHO Expert Committee, made up of recognized specialists from academia, research and the medical and pharmaceutical professions.

This year, the Committee underscored the urgent need to take action to promote equitable access and use of several new highly effective medicines, some of which are currently too costly even for high-income countries.

These included new medicines to treat Hepatitis C, a variety of cancers (including breast cancer and leukemia) and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB), among others.

“When new effective medicines emerge to safely treat serious and widespread diseases, it is vital to ensure that everyone who needs them can obtain them,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said,” placing them on the WHO Essential Medicines List is a first step in that direction.”

According to WHO, governments and institutions around the world are increasingly using the list to guide the development of their own essential medicines lists, because that every medicine listed has been vetted for efficacy, safety and quality, and that there has been a comparative cost-effectiveness evaluation with other alternatives in the same class of medicines.

“It is important to understand that the Essential Medicines List is the starting block and not the finishing line,” Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation said.

“Its purpose is to provide guidance for the prioritization of medicines from a clinical and public health perspective. The hard work begins with efforts to ensure that those medicines are actually available to patients,” Kieny added.



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