WHO Adds New Drugs on the List and Gives Up on Old Treatments


WHO’s Essential Medicines is the main guideline regarding the most used medicines accessed by the health systems, grouped in certain hierarchies of potency, affordability, etc.

Today, the list is published again, containing an improved approach to contemporary health challenges, providing solutions, optimal access, and prioritization of health products.

Around the world, more than 150 countries use WHO’s Essential Medicines List to guide decisions about which medicines represent the best value for money, based on evidence and health impact. The inclusion in this list of some of the newest and most advanced cancer drugs is a strong statement that everyone deserves access to these life-saving medicines, not just those who can afford them.” – stated Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Cancer treatment

Despite a large number of medical alternatives, only a few proved maximum effects. WHO added 12 medicines to address lung, melanoma, leukemias, and multiple myeloma cancers.

Two recent added immunotherapies – pembrolizumab and nivolumab – deliver up to 50% more chances of survival for patients with advanced melanoma, a disease that was considered fatal not long ago.


Three more antibiotics used for highly resistant infections were listed. The list also contains the AWARE categories that advise which drugs should be used and not create an antimicrobial resistance in time.

Other modifications of the list bring:

-New oral anticoagulants in the prevention of stroke, used as a more affordable substitute for atrial fibrillation and deep vein thrombosis treatment;
-Biologics and biosimilars for inflammatory conditions, like inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.;
-Heat-stable carbetocin to prevent postpartum hemorrhage, with similar effects as oxytocin, but it doesn’t require refrigeration.

Not every EML Committee submission appears on the list. The multiple sclerosis drugs submitted for inclusion was omitted from the new list. A medicine that was not agreed on is methylphenidate, used in general for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but the committee doubted its benefits.


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