Essential medicines and health products

Department of Medicines Policy and Standards (HTP/PSM)


The Department of Medicines Policy and Standards (HTP/PSM) is the lead department in WHO for Medicines policies, norms and standards.


Core function: Fulfill WHO’s constitutional obligation to develop, validate, disseminate and promote global policy guidance, norms and standards on pharmaceuticals, including essential medicines.
NB: PSM's core function is complementary to that of TCM, which focuses on technical collaboration with Member States. See also:

Specific functions of PSM:

  • Develop policies, norms and standards: Develop, validate, disseminate and promote up-to-date and scientifically sound policy, guidance, norms, standards, specifications and guidelines on the efficacy, quality, safety, selection, affordability, financing, supply and rational use of medicines (constitutional obligation);
  • Provide information and guidance: Provide all global stakeholders, including Member States, other WHO departments, UN agencies and other international organizations, private and non-profit organizations, governmental and non-governmental institutions, universities and collaborating centers with the policy guidance, technical information, training materials and professional expertise developed by the department;
  • Promote global consistency: Promote global coordination and consistency of pharmaceutical policies, norms and standards between WHO departments, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations and other organizations;
  • Support international conventions: Support the International Narcotic Control Board and related UN bodies in implementing the international conventions on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (international treaty obligation , constitutional obligation) 5.Promote policy research: Plan, coordinate, facilitate and document literature-based and operational research, leading to the development of new technologies, guidelines, resource materials and training tools in support of pharmaceutical policies.

Main recipients and implementation channels

There are many direct "clients" or "implementation channels" for materials generated by PSM. They often participate in the development of policies and standards, and use them afterwards.

  • The department of Technical Cooperation on Essential Medicines (TCM)
  • WHO Regional and country offices
  • Ministries of Health
  • Drug regulatory agencies, social health insurance organizations
  • WHO departments (HIV, TB, MAL, RH, CAH, MSD, EIP) and their country programmes
  • UN agencies (UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNHCR, World Bank, INCB, Interpol)
  • NGOs (MSF, HAI, faith-based organizations, rational use networks, universities, professional organizations, WHO Collaborating Centers, many others)

Main challenges and strategic direction

As part of the WHO Strategic competency review and planning process, main challenges and key elements of strategic direction have been presented by PSM's three organizational units:

Collaboration within the Essential Medicines Area of Work

PSM works with HTP/TCM, and WHO Regional and Country Offices in order to provide and coordinate relevant technical support to countries.
1. Annual meetings of the Global Medicines Council (PSM and TCM directors and team coordinators with all regional advisers); three-monthly video conferences

2. Joint planning with TCM through joint technical working groups (e.g. on drug pricing, supply systems, regulatory support, EC partnership programme)
3. Consistency of medicine work within WHO: PSM will convene regular coordination meetings, starting with quality issues and evidence-based clinical guidelines. 4. Close collaboration with all WHO departments in developing the next Medicine Strategy.


Department of Medicines Policy and Standards (HTP/PSM)
World Health Organization
20, via Appia
CH-1211 Geneva 27
Fax +41 22 791 35 09



Dr Hans V. Hogerzeil

Team Coordinator: Policy, Access and Rational use of Medicines (PAR)

Dr Clive Ondari

Team Coordinator: Quality and safety of Medicines

Dr Lembit Rägo

Technical units

Monitoring: Ms Kathleen Holloway
Supply management: Dr Marthe Everard
Rational drug use: Dr Richard Laing
Publications: Dr Lalit Dwivedi