WHO updates essential medicines list: 7 things to know

The World Health Organization published an updated list of essential medicines July 9, adding 28 drugs for adults and 23 medicines for children.

Seven things to know:

1. The WHO's essential medicine list includes treatments that the agency believes should be available globally. It is updated biannually to help governments guide decisions about the medications that bring the best value based on evidence, cost and health impact. 

2. The list now contains a core of 460 medicines and a complementary list of treatments that require special care or must be delivered in medical facilities. 

3. The committee sorted through 65 applications for additions to the list. About a third were rejected. 

4. The list added three antibiotics for the treatment of multidrug-resistant infections, including Ceftazidime + avibactam; Meropenem + vaborbactam; and Plazomicin.

5. The latest edition rejected several non-small lung cancer treatments, including Keytruda from Merck, Opdivo from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Tecentriq from Roche. But the committee recommended Keytruda and Opdivo for advanced melanoma. 

6. The list includes five new cancer therapies based on improved survival rates for lung, blood and prostate cancer. 

7. The list doesn't include medicines for the treatment of multiple sclerosis; the committee rejected submitted medicines fingolimod, glatiramer acetate and ocrelizumab. The committee that approved the list also did not recommend including methylphenidate, a medicine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Access the full list here

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