Essential medicines and health products

Report urges clearer and better diagnosis of birth defects caused by thalidomide

Following extensive consultations involving the UK’s Thalidomide Trust, WHO and the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, experts have identified key actions to develop standardised criteria for diagnosis of birth defects due to thalidomide. Their findings and recommendations are published in a report released today...

WHO action to increase access to affordable hepatitis C treatment

To help countries achieve equitable access to quality, effective, affordable and safe Hepatitis C treatments, WHO this week published an analysis of the patent situation for seven new hepatitis treatments.

WHO to perform emergency assessment of diagnostics for Ebola

WHO has called on manufacturers of in vitro Ebola diagnostics to submit their products for emergency review to fast-track reliable diagnosis of the virus currently ravaging four West African countries. Assessment of the diagnostics will determine if they are fit for use and list the acceptable products on the WHO web site. This will allow the manufacturers to offer their products to international agencies or countries involved in the battle against the current and worst Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the virus was discovered.

New study shows better use of medicines in countries adopting WHO ‘essential medicines’ policies

The wrong use of medicines is a threat to patients’ health and a global public health problem. The consequences of over- or under-using medicines can result in serious negative drug reactions, sometimes leading to death, drug resistance and a waste of financial resources. The World Health Organization (WHO) has advocated the essential medicines model since 1978 and has developed a range of policies to promote good use of medicines. A study published in PLoS reveals that policies recommended by WHO promote better use of medicines and therefore better patient outcomes and significant cost savings in a number of low-income countries.


On 23 March 2014, WHO was notified of cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Guinea. Since then, EVD has spread to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone and cases have been reported in three additional countries. For the moment, treatment is limited to supportive care and no vaccines or medicines exist for preventing and treating EVD. WHO and its partners have prioritized blood therapies for use in EVD treatment and are currently investigating some potential vaccines and novel treatments.

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Essential Medicines and Health Products (EMP)

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