We reprint the current list (by permission). Whilst the WHO programme (revised 1999) was instituted particularly to help less developed countries, the list has interest and lessons for all societies facing, as they now are, the problems of delivering economically affordable health care to all. We commend a study of the list to our readers (see also p. 18).
The list of essential drugs may be considered against the background of the available marketed medicines worldwide. Any national or local group of health workers wishing to produce a formulary to provide for the needs of their own community would be well advised to study the current version in addition to other sources.
A major standard reference work (Martindale 1996 The extra pharmacopoeia. 31st edn., Pharmaceutical Press, London), describes 62500 preparations or groups of preparations from 17 different countries.
1 WHO Drug Information Vol 13, No 4,1999
We print the list in full.
Drugs marked* represent an example of a therapeutic group, i.e. various other drugs could serve as an alternative say, on cost grounds.
Complementary drugs are for use where, for any reason, drugs in the main list are unavailable, or there are exceptional medical circumstances, e.g. bacterial resistance, rare disorders.
Spelling of drug names. The World Health Organization devises recommended International Nonproprietary Names (rINN). These are becoming universal; most do not give rise to any confusion, but occasionally we insert an alternative name or spelling.
Not every entry in the list is discussed in this book. Conversely, the book may give drug treatments for specific conditions that differ from those listed here.
1.1 General anaesthetics and oxygen ether, anaesthetic halothane ketamine nitrous oxide oxygen
1.2 Local anaesthetics
* lidocaine (lignocaine) COMPLEMENTARY DRUG ephedrine (in spinal anaesthesia during delivery to prevent hypotension)
1.3 Preoperative medication and sedation for short-term procedures atropine chloral hydrate
2.1 Non-opioids and NSAIDs acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin)
* ibuprofen paracetamol
2.2 Opioid analgesics
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