WHO Model List of Essential Medicines
WHO Model List of Essential Medicines is published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first list, published in 1977, included 204 pharmaceutical drugs. The WHO updates the list every two years. The WHO later added a separate WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children up to 12 years of age.
In the United States, price increases of up to 5,000% or more, starting in 2004, have made many first-line drugs on the list, such as pyrimethamine and albendazole, unaffordable for low-income people. These drugs are still available at lower prices outside the U.S.
- 1 Anaesthetics
- 2 Medicines for pain and palliative care
- 3 Antiallergics and medicines used in anaphylaxis
- 4 Antidotes and other substances used in poisonings
- 5 Anticonvulsive medication
- 6 Anti-infective medicines
- 6.1 Antihelminthics
- 6.2 Antibacterials
- 6.3 Antifungal medicines
- 6.4 Antiviral medicines
- 6.4.1 Antiherpes medicines
- 6.4.2 Antiretrovirals
- 126.96.36.199 Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- 188.8.131.52 Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- 184.108.40.206 Protease inhibitors
- 220.127.116.11 Other antivirals
- 18.104.22.168 Antihepatitis medicines
- 6.5 Antiprotozoal medicines
- 6.5.1 Antiamoebic and antigiardiasis medicines
- 6.5.2 Antileishmaniasis medicines
- 6.5.3 Antimalarial medicines
- 6.5.4 Antipneumocystosis and antitoxoplasmosis medicines
- 6.5.5 Antitrypanosomal medicines
- 6.5.6 American trypanosomiasis
- 7 Antimigraine medicines
- 8 Antineoplastic and immunosuppressives
- 9 Antiparkinsonism medicines
- 10 Medicines affecting the blood
- 11 Blood products and plasma substitutes of human origin
- 12 Cardiovascular medicines
- 13 Dermatological (topical)
- 14 Diagnostic agents
- 15 Disinfectants and antiseptics
- 16 Diuretics
- 17 Gastrointestinal medicines
- 18 Hormones, other endocrine medicines, and contraceptives
- 18.1 Adrenal hormones and synthetic substitutes
- 18.2 Androgens
- 18.3 Contraceptives
- 18.4 Estrogens
- 18.5 Insulins and other medicines used for diabetes
- 18.6 Ovulation inducers
- 18.7 Progestogens
- 18.8 Thyroid hormones and antithyroid medicines
- 19 Immunologicals
- 20 Muscle relaxants (peripherally-acting) and cholinesterase inhibitors
- 21 Eye preparations
- 22 Oxytocics and antioxytocics
- 23 Peritoneal dialysis solution
- 24 Medicines for mental and behavioural disorders
- 24.1 Medicines used in psychotic disorders
- 24.2 Medicines used in mood disorders
- 24.3 Medicines for anxiety disorders
- 24.4 Medicines used for obsessive compulsive disorders
- 24.5 Medicines for disorders due to psychoactive substance use
- 25 Medicines acting on the respiratory tract
- 26 Solutions correcting water, electrolyte and acid-base disturbances
- 27 Vitamins and minerals
- 28 Ear, nose and throat medicines in children
- 29 Specific medicines for neonatal care
- 30 Medicines for diseases of joints
- 31 Notes
- 32 References
General anaesthetics and oxygen
- Lidocaine + epinephrine
- Ephedrine† (not a local anaesthetic, included in this list for prevention of hypotension associated with spinal anaesthesia during caesarean section)
Preoperative medication and sedation for short-term procedures
Medicines for pain and palliative care
Nonopioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Medicines for other common symptoms in palliative care
- Docusate sodium
- Hyoscine butylbromide
- Hyoscine hydrobromide
Antiallergics and medicines used in anaphylaxis
Antidotes and other substances used in poisonings
- Calcium gluconate
- Methylthioninium chloride (methylene blue)
- Prussian blue
- Sodium nitrite
- Sodium thiosulfate
- Sodium calcium edetate†
- Magnesium sulfate[note 5]
- Valproic acid (sodium valproate)
Antischistosomals and other antinematode medicines
Beta Lactam medicines
- Amoxicillin + clavulanic acid
- Benzathine benzylpenicillin
- Cefazolin[note 6]
- Cefixime[note 7]
- Ceftriaxone[note 8]
- Phenoxymethylpenicillin (Penicillin V)
- Procaine benzylpenicillin[note 9]
- Cefotaxime†[note 10]
- Imipenem + cilastatin†[note 11]
- Azithromycin[note 12]
- Clarithromycin[note 13]
- Sulfamethoxazole + trimethoprim
- Ethambutol + isoniazid
- Ethambutol + isoniazid + pyrazinamide + rifampicin
- Ethambutol + isoniazid + rifampicin
- Isoniazid + pyrazinamide + rifampicin
- Isoniazid + rifampicin
- Rifabutin[note 14]
- Rifapentine[note 15]
- Cycloserine†[note 16]
- Ethionamide†[note 17]
- Levofloxacin†[note 18]
- p-aminosalicylic acid†
Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- Abacavir (ABC)
- Lamivudine (3TC)
- Stavudine (d4T)
- Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)
- Zidovudine (ZDV or AZT)
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- Efavirenz + emtricitabine[note 19] + tenofovir
- Emtricitabine[note 19] + tenofovir
- Lamivudine + nevirapine + stavudine
- Lamivudine + nevirapine + zidovudine
Medicines for hepatitis B
- —Nucleoside/Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors
Medicines for hepatitis C
- —Nucleotide polymerase inhibitors
- —Protease inhibitors
- —NS5A inhibitors
- —Non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitors
- —Other antivirals
- —Fixed-dose combinations
Antiamoebic and antigiardiasis medicines
For curative treatment
- Amodiaquine[note 24]
- Artemether[note 25]
- Artemether/lumefantrine[note 26]
- Artesunate[note 27]
- Artesunate/amodiaquine[note 28]
- Chloroquine[note 29]
- Doxycycline[note 30]
- Mefloquine[note 31]
- Primaquine[note 32]
- Quinine[note 33]
- Sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine[note 34]
Antipneumocystosis and antitoxoplasmosis medicines
Medicines for the treatment of 1st stage African trypanosomiasis
Medicines for the treatment of second stage African trypanosomiasis
Antineoplastic and immunosuppressives
Cytotoxic and adjuvant medicines
- All-trans retinoic acid (tretinoin)†
- Calcium folinate†
Hormones and antihormones
Medicines affecting the blood
Medicines affecting coagulation
Other medicines for haemoglobinopathies
Blood products and plasma substitutes of human origin
Blood and blood components
- Anti-D immunoglobulin
- Anti-rabies immunoglobulin
- Anti-tetanus immunoglobulin
- Human normal immunoglobulin†
Blood coagulation factors
- Bisoprolol[note 43]
- Hydralazine[note 44]
- Methyldopa[note 45]
- Sodium nitroprusside†
Medicines used in heart failure
Anti-inflammatory and antipruritic medicines
Medicines affecting skin differentiation and proliferation
Scabicides and pediculicides
Disinfectants and antiseptics
Medicines used in diarrhea
Medicines for diarrhea in children
Hormones, other endocrine medicines, and contraceptives
Adrenal hormones and synthetic substitutes
Oral hormonal contraceptives
Injectable hormonal contraceptives
- Estradiol cypionate + medroxyprogesterone acetate
- Medroxyprogesterone acetate
- Norethisterone enantate
Insulins and other medicines used for diabetes
Thyroid hormones and antithyroid medicines
- Tuberculin, purified protein derivative (PPD)
Sera and immunoglobulins
- BCG vaccine
- Cholera vaccine[note 50]
- Diphtheria vaccine
- Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine
- Hepatitis A vaccine[note 50]
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- HPV vaccine
- Influenza vaccine
- Japanese encephalitis vaccine[note 51]
- Measles vaccine
- Meningococcal meningitis vaccine[note 50]
- Mumps vaccine
- Pertussis vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Poliomyelitis vaccine
- Rabies vaccine[note 50]
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Rubella vaccine
- Tetanus vaccine
- Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine[note 51]
- Typhoid vaccine[note 50]
- Varicella vaccine
- Yellow fever vaccine[note 51]
Muscle relaxants (peripherally-acting) and cholinesterase inhibitors
Miotics and antiglaucoma medicines
Anti vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
Oxytocics and antioxytocics
Oxytocics and Abortifacients
Peritoneal dialysis solution
Medicines for mental and behavioural disorders
Medicines used in psychotic disorders
Medicines used in mood disorders
Medicines used in depressive disorders
Medicines used in bipolar disorders
Medicines for anxiety disorders
Medicines used for obsessive compulsive disorders
Medicines for disorders due to psychoactive substance use
Medicines acting on the respiratory tract
Antiasthmatic and medicines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Solutions correcting water, electrolyte and acid-base disturbances
- Glucose with sodium chloride
- Potassium chloride
- Sodium chloride
- Sodium hydrogen carbonate
- Sodium lactate, compound solution
- Water for injection
Vitamins and minerals
- Ascorbic acid
- Cholecalciferol[note 54]
- Sodium fluoride
- Calcium gluconate†
Ear, nose and throat medicines in children
Specific medicines for neonatal care
Medicines administered to the neonate
Medicines administered to the mother
Medicines for diseases of joints
Medicines used to treat gout
Disease-modifying agents used in rheumatoid disorders
Juvenile joint diseases
- ^ A † indicates the medicine is a complementary item, for which specialized diagnostic or monitoring and/or specialist training are needed. An item may also be listed as complementary on the basis of higher costs and/or a less attractive cost/benefit ratio.
- Thiopental may be used as an alternative depending on local availability and cost.
- Not recommended for anti‐inflammatory use due to lack of proven benefit to that effect
- Alternatives limited to hydromorphone and oxycodone.
- There may be a role for sedating antihistamines for limited indications (EMLc)
- For use in eclampsia and severe pre‐eclampsia and not for other convulsant disorders.
- For surgical prophylaxis.
- Only listed for single‐dose treatment of uncomplicated ano‐genital gonorrhoea.
- Do not administer with calcium and avoid in infants with hyperbilirubinemia
- Procaine benzylpenicillin is not recommended as first-line treatment for neonatal sepsis except in settings with high neonatal mortality, when given by trained health workers in cases where hospital care is not achievable.
- 3rd generation cephalosporin of choice for use in hospitalized neonates.
- Only listed for the treatment of life‐threatening hospital‐based infection due to suspected or proven multidrug‐resistant infection
- Only listed for single‐dose treatment of genital Chlamydia trachomatis and of trachoma.
- For use in combination regimens for eradication of H. pylori in adults.
- For use only in patients with HIV receiving protease inhibitors.
- For treatment of latent TB infection (LTBI) only
- Terizidone may be an alternative.
- Prothionamide may be an alternative.
- Ofloxacin and moxifloxacin may be alternatives based on availability and programme considerations.
- FTC is an acceptable alternative to 3TC, based on knowledge of the pharmacology, the resistance patterns and clinical trials of antiretrovirals.
- Potentially severe or complicated illness due to confirmed or suspected influenza virus infection in accordance with WHO treatment guidelines.
- For the treatment of viral haemorrhagic fevers and in combination with pegylated interferons for the treatment of Hepatitis C.
- For the treatment of hepatitis C, in combination with peginterferon and/or direct acting anti-viral medicines.
- To be used in combination with ribavirin.
- To be used in combination with artesunate 50 mg.
- For use in the management of severe malaria.
- Not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy or in children below 5 kg.
- To be used in combination with either amodiaquine, mefloquine or sulfadoxine + pyrimethamine.
- Other combinations that deliver the target doses required such as 153 mg or 200 mg (as hydrochloride) with 50 mg artesunate can be alternatives.
- For use only for the treatment of P.vivax infection.
- For use only in combination with quinine.
- To be used in combination with artesunate 50 mg.
- Only for use to achieve radical cure of P.vivax and P.ovale infections, given for 14 days.
- For use only in the management of severe malaria, and should be used in combination with doxycycline.
- Only in combination with artesunate 50 mg.
- For use only in central American regions, for use for P.vivax.
- For use only in combination with chloroquine.
- To be used for the treatment of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense infection.
- To be used for the treatment of the initial phase of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense infection.
- To be used for the treatment of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense infection
- Only to be used in combination with eflornithine, for the treatment of T. b. gambiense infection.
- Deferasirox oral form may be an alternative, depending on cost and availability.
- Polygeline, injectable solution, 3.5% is considered as equivalent.
- Includes metoprolol and carvedilol as alternatives.
- Hydralazine is listed for use in the acute management of severe pregnancy‐induced hypertension only. Its use in the treatment of essential hypertension is not recommended in view of the availability of more evidence of efficacy and safety of other medicines.
- Methyldopa is listed for use in the management of pregnancy‐induced hypertension only. Its use in the treatment of essential hypertension is not recommended in view of the availability of more evidence of efficacy and safety of other medicines.
- For use in high‐risk patients.
- In acute diarrhoea zinc sulfate should be used as an adjunct to oral rehydration salts
- Glibenclamide not suitable above 60 years.
- Exact type to be defined locally.
- Recommended for some high-risk populations
- Recommended for certain regions
- Or homatropine (hydrobromide) or cyclopentolate (hydrochloride).
- Requires close medical supervision.
- Ergocalciferol can be used as an alternative.
- For use for rheumatic fever, juvenile arthritis, Kawasaki disease
- "Comparative Table of Medicines on the WHO Essential Medicines Lists from 1977–2011" (XLS). World Health Organization. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
- Bansal, D; Purohit, VK (January 2013). "Accessibility and use of essential medicines in health care: Current progress and challenges in India.". Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics. 4 (1): 13–8. PMID 23662019. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.107642.
- Alpern JD, Song J, Stauffer WM. (2016 May 19). "Essential Medicines in the United States--Why Access Is Diminishing.". N Engl J Med. 374 (20): 1904–7. PMID 27192669. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1601559. Check date values in:
- "19th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (April 2015)" (PDF). WHO. April 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- "WHO moves to improve access to lifesaving medicines for hepatitis C, drug-resistant TB and cancers". 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.