Medicines

Projects

WHO collaborates with Member States, global health initiatives and foundations, and other partners throughout the world to promote the safety and efficacy of medicines. A number of projects are ongoing to strengthen pharmacovigilance (PV) on a global scale.

Chagas disease

Ardón L 2006

In 2009 the Medicines Safety team together with the WHO Programme on Control of Chagas disease initiated a project for the PV of medicines used in treating Chagas disease. The objective is to characterize the adverse effects associated with nifurtimox and benznidazole, two medicines that have been in use for many years in Chagas endemic countries but have not been monitored systematically.

HIV/AIDS

The antiretroviral medicines (ARV) Pharmacovigilance Project is implemented by the WHO Medicines Safety team and the HIV/AIDS department, with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is expected to conclude in 2012 and includes the following key components

Malaria

The Medicines Safety team is working to enable six African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia and United Republic of Tanzania to monitor the adverse effects of Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs), within the context of national malaria control programmes. The project is supported with funds from the European Commission, and is being implemented in collaboration with other relevant partners such as the WHO Global Malaria Programme (GMP), the WHO Regional Office in Africa, the relevant WHO country offices, the UMC and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Advocacy and Training in Pharmacovigilance in Accra, Ghana (WHOcc in Accra).

Monitoring medicines (FP-7)

A 42 month project with the aim to advance safety monitoring of medicines, and in particular to involve consumers in the process, was launched in 2010. The project which goes under the name Monitoring Medicines has been made possible by a grant from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP-7). The project involves WHO, the Uppsala Monitoring Centre and many other partners throughout the world. The Project has four key components:

  • Strengthening consumer reporting.
  • Identification of problems related to irrational use of medicines and patient safety by national PV centres.
  • Better use of existing global PV data.
  • Developing active and focused PV systems to address urgent safety questions in priority diseases.

Tuberculosis

PV in Tuberculosis (TB) is essential because some of the medicines used in TB treatment have very severe adverse effects and can affect compliance. Inconsistent or partial treatment, lack of patient compliance, and medication errors caused by healthcare professionals can all lead to TB resistance. PV is essential to understand and respond to these issues in TB programmes, particularly when faced with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), and TB in HIV patients. Partially funded by the Monitoring Medicines project, the Medicines Safety team, in collaboration with the STOP TB partnership, is developing a handbook for implementing PV within TB treatment programmes. The Handbook will be available to Member States by the end of 2011.

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