Two forms of nicotine replacement therapy chosen as WHO "Essential Medicines"
7 May 2009 - Two forms of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help people quit their addictions to tobacco have been placed on the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines.
Transdermal patches and chewing gums were placed there on the recommendation of the 17th Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines, which met in Geneva 23-27 March 2009. They were the first nicotine replacement therapies ever added to the list, which was begun in 1977.
The application to include NRT was submitted by Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative, who argued that recognized nicotine replacement therapies effectively promote smoking cessation in individuals.
In making its recommendation, the committee cited the public health need, the high-quality evidence of effectiveness and the therapies' acceptable safety and cost-effectiveness.
Transdermal patches were approved in two concentrations: 5 mg to 30 mg for 16 hours and 7 mg to 21 mg for 24 hours. Chewing gums were approved in two concentrations: 2 mg and 4 mg.
The therapies were placed on what is formally designated the 16th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines.
It is expected that the inclusion of the therapies would advance discussions on the development of guidelines for the implementation of Article 14 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The international treaty requires its more than 160 Parties to develop programmes to reduce tobacco addiction.
It is also expected that the inclusion of the therapies would promote improved access to NRT in developing countries.