WHO has released its Essential Medicines List for 2017. The list which is updated every two years presents a list of minimum medicine needs for a basic health care system and essential medicines for priority diseases, for which specialized diagnostic or monitoring facilities, and/or specialist medical care, and/or specialist training are needed.
The updated list adds 30 medicines for adults and 25 for children, and specifies new uses for 9 already-listed products, bringing the total to 433 drugs deemed essential for addressing the most important public health needs. The WHO Essential Medicines List (EML) is used by many countries to increase access to medicines and guide decisions about which products they ensure are available for their populations.
The important thing to be noted about the new list is that WHO experts have grouped antibiotics into three categories – ACCESS, WATCH and RESERVE – with recommendations on when each category should be used. Initially, the new categories apply only to antibiotics used to treat 21 of the most common general infections. If shown to be useful, it could be broadened in future versions of the EML to apply to drugs to treat other infections.