WHO Database on Medicines Use in Developing and Transitional Countries
Dr. Dennis Ross-Degnan has been collaborating with Dr. Kathy Holloway of the WHO Department of Medicine
Policy and Standards on developing a database of studies on use of essential medicines and effective
interventions published between 1993 and 2006, as well as several studies summarizing lessons learned in
that period. The WHO Medicines Use Database of nearly 800 articles shows that more than half of all
drugs are used in an inappropriate way. Fewer than half of the studies were done in conjunction with
interventions to promote rational use of medicines, and most of these were not nationwide but locally
focused. In addition, the WHO database on pharmaceutical policy reveals that fewer than 50 percent of
countries are implementing at the national level more than half of the policies recommended by WHO to
encourage rational use of medicines. Much of the evidence was presented at the second International
Conference for Improving the Use of Medicines (ICIUM 2004), which issued a major recommendation that
countries institute national programs to promote rational use of medicines. ICIUM2004 participants
further recommended that such programs be based on coordinated implementation of sustainable multifaceted
interventions, scaled up to the national level and with built-in systems for monitoring medicines use in
order to evaluate progress.
The WHO Medicines Use Database will be available soon on the WHO website.