Accessibility and Use of Essential Medicines in Health Care: Current Progress and Challenges in India

J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2013 Jan;4(1):13-8. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.107642.


Essential Medicine Concept, a major breakthrough in health care, started in 1977 when World Health Organization (WHO) published its first list. Appropriate use of essential medicines is one of the most cost-effective components of modern health care. The selection process has evolved from expert evaluation to evidence-based selection. The first Indian list was published in 1996 and the recent revision with 348 medicines was published in 2011 after 8 years. Health expenditure is less in India as compared to developed countries. India faces a major challenge in providing access to medicines for its 1.2 billion people by focusing on providing essential medicines. In the future, countries will face challenges in selecting high-cost medicines for oncology, orphan diseases and other conditions. There is a need to develop strategies to improve affordable access to essential medicines under the current health care reform.

Keywords: Accessibility; India; essential medicines; health expenditures.