WHO has penciled down two key guidance documents including Essential Medicines List and List of Essential Diagnostics so as to help countries prioritize crucial health products that should be made available and feasible on a wider scale across the globe. The major focus is on cancer and more of health disorders plus on the treatments, potential accessibility, and smart prioritization. About 150 countries have shown to follow WHO’s Essential Medicines List in order to take decisions on the medicines that show value for money based on health benefits and research. The latest and most advanced cancer drugs are also added on the list so as to make these life-saving medicines available for everyone in need and not only for the ones who can afford them.
The Essential Medicines List (2019)
There is an inclusion of the cancer treatment drugs in the list that are currently being marketed. However, only a few are known to deliver sufficient therapeutic benefits such that they can be termed essential. Around 5 cancer therapies have been added by WHO to the new Medicines List as they are known to increase survival rates when treating melanoma, blood, lung, and prostate cancers. The immunotherapies including nivolumab and pembrolizumab have also been known to provide 50% survival rates in case of melanoma. The Essential Medicines Committee has focused on providing facts on antibiotic use by providing an update of the AWARE categories that will deliver when and what antibiotics to be used in case of infections for obtaining a better outcome and low resistance.
The latest oral anticoagulants could be used for stroke prevention instead of warfarin for atrial fibrillation and deep vein thrombosis. It is cost effective and does not ask for regular monitoring. The biosimilars could be used for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. Heat-stable carbetocin could keep postpartum hemorrhage at bay and also control oxytocin levels. The tropical countries do not need to struggle to refrigerate it. Methylphenidate for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is still being investigated by EML Committee along with medicines for multiple sclerosis.
The List of Essential (in vitro) Diagnostics
The 2018 List of Essential Diagnostics focused on priority diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, and hepatitis. Now, more non-communicable and communicable diseases have been added. In order to curb the cancer death rates in the low or middle-class countries WHO has decided to add 12 tests to the list for solid tumors diagnosis including liver, prostate, colorectal, breast, cervical, and germ cell cancers along with leukemia and lymphomas. The anatomical pathology testing will be made available in specialized laboratories. The tests for cholera, like leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, dengue, and Zika diagnosis will also be added to the list. The influenza tests, iron tests, thyroid malfunction tests, sickle cell tests, blood screening, and more are also included.
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