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New medicines added to essentials lists

Friday October 1st 2021

Two new lists of essential medicines have been published by the World Health Organization with a pledge it will help widen access to treatments.

The Model Lists of Essential Medicines and Essential Medicines for Children include treatments for cancers, insulin analogues and new oral medicines for diabetes, new medicines to help people stop smoking, and antimicrobials to treat serious bacterial and fungal infections.

The listings aim to address global health priorities and to identify medicines that provide the greatest benefits and which should be available and affordable for all.

WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Diabetes is on the rise globally, and rising faster in low- and middle-income countries.

“Too many people who need insulin encounter financial hardship in accessing it or go without it and lose their lives. Including insulin analogues in the Essential Medicines List, coupled with efforts to ensure affordable access to all insulin products and expand use of biosimilars, is a vital step towards ensuring everyone who needs this life-saving product can access it.”

Limited insulin supply and high prices in several low- and middle-income countries remain a significant barrier to treatment but listing long-acting insulin analogues – insulin degludec, detemir and glargine and their biosimilars – with human insulin, should increase access to diabetes treatment.

By including biosimilar insulin analogues in the list means they can be eligible for WHO’s prequalification programme, which can lead to more quality-assured biosimilars entering the international market.

The list also includes Sodium-Glucose Co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors empagliflozin, canagliflozin and dapagliflozin as second line therapy in adults with type 2 diabetes.

The Model Lists include four new medicines for cancer treatment: enzalutamide, which is an alternative to abiraterone, for prostate cancer; everolimus, for subependymal giant cell astrocytoma (SEGA) in children; ibrutinib, a targeted medicine for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; and rasburicase, for tumour lysis syndrome.

New childhood cancer indications were added for 16 medicines that are already listed, including for low-grade glioma, the most common brain tumour in children.

For the treatment of infectious diseases, new medicines listed include cefiderocol, a ‘Reserve’ group antibiotic effective against multi-drug resistant bacteria; echinocandin antifungals for severe fungal infections and monoclonal antibodies for rabies prevention; new formulations of medicines for common bacterial infections, hepatitis C, HIV and tuberculosis; and an additional 81 antibiotics were classified as Access, Watch or Reserve under the AWaRe framework, to support antimicrobial stewardship and surveillance of antibiotic use worldwide.

Two non-nicotine-based medicines – bupropion and varenicline – join nicotine-replacement therapy on the Model List.

[Lists]

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | Diabetes | Pharmaceuticals | World Health

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