Essential medicines selection

WHO Model List of Essential Medicines

The WHO Model List of Essential Medicines which serves as a guide for the development of national and institutional essential medicine lists is updated and revised every two years by the WHO Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Medicines. 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.

National Essential Medicines Lists

Most countries have national lists and some have provincial or state lists as well. National lists of essential medicines guide the procurement and supply of medicines in the public sector, schemes that reimburse medicine costs, medicine donations, and local medicine production.

WHO compiles country information on national Essential Medicines Lists, national medicine policy and national Standard Treatment Guidelines.

WHO Model Formulary

Since its first publication in 2002, the WHO Model Formulary has become an source of independent information on essential medicines for pharmaceutical policy-makers and prescribers worldwide. For each medicine the Formulary provides information on use, dosage, adverse effects, contraindications and warnings, supplemented by guidance on selecting the right medicine for a range of conditions.

Please send any comments, suggestions or amendments, as well as any request for the WHO Model Formulary in an editable format to