Can the selection and use of essential medicines decrease inappropriate drug use?

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Jun;85(6):581-3. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2009.10.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that half of all medicines are inappropriately prescribed, dispensed, sold, or taken. Selection from a list limited to the best medicines available for the conditions being treated can decrease inappropriate prescribing. It precludes prescribing less effective or more toxic drugs when better ones are on the list. Prescribers need know about fewer drugs, which enables them to have a better understanding of the drugs they do prescribe. The disadvantages of using such a list--limited ability to prescribe unlisted drugs when desired and delay in listing new drugs--can be overcome by administrative actions. Implementing the essential medicines concept will decrease inappropriate drug use. A much more global, comprehensive, and committed approach needs to be taken by all of us to eliminate it.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Utilization
  • Drugs, Essential*
  • Formularies as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / organization & administration
  • World Health Organization / organization & administration*


  • Drugs, Essential