Classification of orally administered drugs on the World Health Organization Model list of Essential Medicines according to the biopharmaceutics classification system

Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2004 Sep;58(2):265-78. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2004.03.001.


Since its inception in 1995, the biopharmaceutical classification system (BCS) has become an increasingly important tool for regulation of drug products world-wide. Until now, application of the BCS has been partially hindered by the lack of a freely available and accurate database summarising solubility and permeability characteristics of drug substances. In this report, orally administered drugs on the Model list of Essential Medicines of the World Health Organization (WHO) are assigned BCS classifications on the basis of data available in the public domain. Of the 130 orally administered drugs on the WHO list, 61 could be classified with certainty. Twenty-one (84%) of these belong to class I (highly soluble, highly permeable), 10 (17%) to class II (poorly soluble, highly permeable), 24 (39%) to class III (highly soluble, poorly permeable) and 6 (10%) to class IV (poorly soluble, poorly permeable). A further 28 drugs could be provisionally assigned, while for 41 drugs insufficient or conflicting data precluded assignment to a specific BCS class. A total of 32 class I drugs (either certain or provisional classification) were identified. These drugs can be further considered for biowaiver status (drug product approval based on dissolution tests rather than bioequivalence studies in humans).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Biological Products / classification
  • Biopharmaceutics*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug*
  • Permeability
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / classification*
  • Solubility
  • World Health Organization*


  • Biological Products
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations