WHO updates Model Lists of Essential Medicines

June 6, 2017

CDDEP Expert Participates in Review Panel for Antibacterials

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the 20th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) and the 6th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc).  The EML and EMLc are updated every two years and used by many countries to guide decisions about their national essential medicines lists, which help to ensure access to treatment of widespread or high-priority diseases, including priority infection syndromes.

CDDEP Fellow Sumanth Gandra was part of the Expert Committee that helped shape the revised list, evaluating the scientific evidence for medicines’ comparative effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

The Expert Committee recommended the addition of 30 new medicines to the EML and 25 new medicines to the EMLc, of which 10 and 12, respectively, were antibacterial agents. A new grouping of antibacterial agents was also proposed, with three categories:

  1. Access: First and second choice antibiotics for the empiric treatment of most common infection syndromes. These medicines should be widely available, at an affordable cost and of assured quality.
  2. Watch: Antibiotics that are considered to have  higher resistance potential and  are recommended as first or second choice treatments for a limited number of syndromes;
  3. Reserve: Antibiotics that should be used as “last resort” options and should be accessible when needed, but use should be limited to specific patients and settings.

Many low- and middle-income countries face regular shortages of antibiotics, high prices, and sub-standard or counterfeit antibiotics. When quality antimicrobials are not accessible, healthcare workers may prescribe suboptimal drugs, which could lead to increasingly resistant infections and adverse side effects. The EML, EMLc, and new categorization of antibacterial agents will further guide countries in ensuring access to appropriate antibacterial agents and support antimicrobial stewardship efforts.

According to Dr. Gandra, “The Model List of Essential Medicines necessarily has a sharp focus on preserving antimicrobials. This list serves as a guide for the medicine supply system and is responsible for promoting health equity.”


About the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy 
The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) produces independent, multidisciplinary research to advance the health and wellbeing of human populations around the world.  CDDEP projects are global in scope, spanning Africa, Asia, and North America and include scientific studies and policy engagement.  The CDDEP team is experienced in addressing country-specific and regional issues, as well as the local and global aspects of global challenges, such as antibiotic resistance and pandemic influenza. CDDEP research is notable for innovative approaches to design and analysis, which are shared widely through publications, presentations and web-based programs.  CDDEP has offices in Washington, D.C. and New Delhi and relies on a distinguished team of scientists, public health experts and economists.


6 Jun 2017