Essential medicines and health products

20th Essential Medicines List (2017)

The 20th Essential Medicines List, published on 6 June 2017, marks the 40th anniversary of this flagship WHO tool to expand access to medicines. The updated list adds 30 medicines for adults and 25 for children, and specifies new uses for 9 already-listed products, bringing the total to 433 drugs deemed essential for addressing the most important public health needs globally. The 20th List also provides new advice on which antibiotics to use for common infections and which to preserve for the most serious syndromes, based on a thorough review of all essential antibiotics. Intended to optimise antibiotic use and reduce antibiotic resistance without restricting access, the List categorises antibiotics into three groups: ACCESS, WATCH, RESERVE.

The updated EML also includes several new drugs, such as two oral leukemia treatments, a new pill for hepatitis C that combines two medicines, a new treatment for HIV as well as an older drug that can be taken to prevent HIV infection in people at high risk, new paediatric formulations of medicines for tuberculosis, and two cancer pain relievers.

Essential Medicines Lists

The 2017 Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines