Essential medicines and health products

WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence

The ECDD is the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. The Committee consists of an independent group of experts in the field of drugs and medicines.
The ECDD assesses the health risks and benefits of the use of psychoactive substances according to a set of fixed criteria. These criteria are:

  • Evidence of dependence potential of the substance
  • Actual abuse and/or evidence of likelihood of abuse
  • Therapeutic applications of the substance

Depending on the outcome of the assessment of a specific substance the Committee may advise:

  • To place the substance under international control (place it in one of the Schedules)
  • To transfer the substance from one Schedule to another (leading to more or less control measures)
  • To delete the substance from a Schedule (putting an end to control)
  • To keep the substance under surveillance out of a lack of evidence for actual abuse or dependency.

The ECDD recommendations are presented by the Director General of the WHO to the UN Secretary General and the United Nations Control Narcotic Board (CND).

The recommendations of the Expert Committee are based on the best available scientific, medical and public health evidence and must comply with the criteria established in the conventions. Specific rules and procedures for the evaluation of substances are published in Guidance on the WHO review of psychoactive substances for international control. The science of substance evaluation has evolved over time and the methods of the Expert Committee are continuously adapted to embrace newly emerging insights.

The CND convenes each year in March in Vienna and reviews and analyzes the global drug situation, considering the interrelated issues of prevention of drug abuse, rehabilitation of drug users and supply and trafficking in illicit drugs. It takes action through resolutions and decisions. The CND decides, on the basis of recommendations by the WHO, to place narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances under international control.