- National List of Essential Medicines first published in 1986
- First revision 1992
- Second revision 1997
- Third revision 2002
- Fourth revision 2011
- Fifth revision 2016
- Sixth revision 2021
The core list presents a list of minimum medicine needs for a basic health-care system, listing the most efficacious, safe and cost–effective medicines for priority conditions. Priority conditions are selected on the basis of current and estimated future public health relevance, and potential for safe and cost-effective treatment.
Where the [c] symbol is placed next to an individual medicine or strength of medicine on the core list it signifies that there is a specific indication for restricting its use to children.
The complementary list presents essential medicines for priority diseases, for which specialized diagnostic or monitoring facilities, and/ or specialist medical care, and/or specialist training are needed. In case of doubt medicines may also be listed as Complementary on the basis of consistent higher costs or less attractive cost-effectiveness in a variety of settings.
Where the [c] symbol is placed next to an individual medicine or strength of medicine on the complementary list it signifies that the medicine(s) require(s) specialist, diagnostic or monitoring facilities, and/or specialist medical care, and/or specialist training for their use in children.
The [a] symbol indicates that there is an age or weight restriction on use of the medicine; details for each medicine can be found in Annex II Medicines and dosage forms are listed in alphabetical order within each section and there is no implication of preference for one form over another. Standard treatment guidelines should be consulted for information on appropriate dosage forms.
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