WHO Model List of Essential Medicines

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WHO Model List of Essential Medicines is published by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first list, published in 1977, included 204 pharmaceutical drugs.[1] The WHO updates the list every two years. The WHO later added a separate WHO Model List of Essential Medicines for Children up to 12 years of age.

As of 2016, at least 156 countries have created national lists of essential medicines based on the WHO's model list.[2] The national lists contain between 334 and 580 medications.[3]

In April 2015, the WHO published the 19th edition of the adult list and 5th edition of the list for children.[4][5] The following list is based on the 19th edition of the adult list:



General anaesthetics and oxygen[edit]

Inhalational medicines[edit]

Injectable medicines[edit]

Local anaesthetics[edit]

Preoperative medication and sedation for short-term procedures[edit]

Medicines for pain and palliative care[edit]

Nonopioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)[edit]

Opioid analgesics[edit]

Medicines for other common symptoms in palliative care[edit]

Antiallergics and medicines used in anaphylaxis[edit]

Antidotes and other substances used in poisonings[edit]



Anticonvulsive medication[edit]

Anti-infective medicines[edit]


Intestinal antihelminthics[edit]


Antischistosomals and other antinematode medicines[edit]


Beta Lactam medicines[edit]

Other antibacterials[edit]

Antileprosy medicines[edit]

Antituberculosis medicines[edit]

Antifungal medicines[edit]

Antiviral medicines[edit]

Antiherpes medicines[edit]


Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors[edit]
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors[edit]
Protease inhibitors[edit]
Fixed-dose combinations[edit]
Other antivirals[edit]
Antihepatitis medicines[edit]
Medicines for hepatitis B[edit]
—Nucleoside/Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors
Medicines for hepatitis C[edit]
—Nucleotide polymerase inhibitors
—Protease inhibitors
—NS5A inhibitors
—Non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitors
—Other antivirals
—Fixed-dose combinations

Antiprotozoal medicines[edit]

Antiamoebic and antigiardiasis medicines[edit]

Antileishmaniasis medicines[edit]

Antimalarial medicines[edit]

For curative treatment[edit]
For prevention[edit]

Antipneumocystosis and antitoxoplasmosis medicines[edit]

Antitrypanosomal medicines[edit]

African trypanosomiasis[edit]
Medicines for the treatment of 1st stage African trypanosomiasis[edit]
Medicines for the treatment of second stage African trypanosomiasis[edit]

American trypanosomiasis[edit]

Antimigraine medicines[edit]

Acute attack[edit]


Antineoplastic and immunosuppressives[edit]

Immunosuppressive medicines[edit]

Cytotoxic and adjuvant medicines[edit]

Hormones and antihormones[edit]

Antiparkinsonism medicines[edit]

Medicines affecting the blood[edit]

Antianaemia medicines[edit]

Medicines affecting coagulation[edit]

Other medicines for haemoglobinopathies[edit]

Blood products and plasma substitutes of human origin[edit]

Blood and blood components[edit]

Plasma-derived medicines[edit]

Human immunoglobulins[edit]

Blood coagulation factors[edit]

Plasma substitutes[edit]

Cardiovascular medicines[edit]

Antianginal medicines[edit]

Antiarrhythmic medicines[edit]

Antihypertensive medicines[edit]

Medicines used in heart failure[edit]

Antithrombotic medicines[edit]

Anti-platelet medicines[edit]

Thrombolytic medicines[edit]

Lipid-lowering agents[edit]

Dermatological (topical)[edit]

Antifungal medicines[edit]

Anti-infective medicines[edit]

Anti-inflammatory and antipruritic medicines[edit]

Medicines affecting skin differentiation and proliferation[edit]

Scabicides and pediculicides[edit]

Diagnostic agents[edit]

Ophthalmic medicines[edit]

Radiocontrast media[edit]

Disinfectants and antiseptics[edit]




Gastrointestinal medicines[edit]

Antiulcer medicines[edit]

Antiemetic medicines[edit]

Anti-inflammatory medicines[edit]


Medicines used in diarrhea[edit]

Oral rehydration[edit]

Medicines for diarrhea in children[edit]

Hormones, other endocrine medicines, and contraceptives[edit]

Adrenal hormones and synthetic substitutes[edit]



Oral hormonal contraceptives[edit]

Injectable hormonal contraceptives[edit]

Intrauterine devices[edit]

Barrier methods[edit]

Implantable contraceptives[edit]

Intravaginal contraceptives[edit]


Insulins and other medicines used for diabetes[edit]

Ovulation inducers[edit]


Thyroid hormones and antithyroid medicines[edit]


Diagnostic agents[edit]

Sera and immunoglobulins[edit]


Muscle relaxants (peripherally-acting) and cholinesterase inhibitors[edit]

Eye preparations[edit]

Anti-infective agents[edit]

Anti-inflammatory agents[edit]

Local anesthetics[edit]

Miotics and antiglaucoma medicines[edit]


Anti vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)[edit]

Oxytocics and antioxytocics[edit]

Oxytocics and Abortifacients[edit]

Antioxytocics (tocolytics)[edit]

Peritoneal dialysis solution[edit]

Medicines for mental and behavioural disorders[edit]

Medicines used in psychotic disorders[edit]

Medicines used in mood disorders[edit]

Medicines used in depressive disorders[edit]

Medicines used in bipolar disorders[edit]

Medicines for anxiety disorders[edit]

Medicines used for obsessive compulsive disorders[edit]

Medicines for disorders due to psychoactive substance use[edit]

Medicines acting on the respiratory tract[edit]

Antiasthmatic and medicines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease[edit]

Solutions correcting water, electrolyte and acid-base disturbances[edit]




Vitamins and minerals[edit]

Ear, nose and throat medicines in children[edit]

Specific medicines for neonatal care[edit]

Medicines administered to the neonate[edit]

Medicines administered to the mother[edit]

Medicines for diseases of joints[edit]

Medicines used to treat gout[edit]

Disease-modifying agents used in rheumatoid disorders[edit]

Juvenile joint diseases[edit]

See also[edit]


^ A indicates the medicine is a complementary item, for which specialized diagnostic or monitoring and/or specialist training are needed. An item may also be listed as complementary on the basis of higher costs and/or a less attractive cost/benefit ratio.
  1. ^ Thiopental may be used as an alternative depending on local availability and cost.
  2. ^ Not recommended for anti‐inflammatory use due to lack of proven benefit to that effect
  3. ^ Alternatives limited to hydromorphone and oxycodone.
  4. ^ There may be a role for sedating antihistamines for limited indications (EMLc)
  5. ^ For use in eclampsia and severe pre‐eclampsia and not for other convulsant disorders.
  6. ^ For surgical prophylaxis.
  7. ^ Only listed for single‐dose treatment of uncomplicated ano‐genital gonorrhoea.
  8. ^ Do not administer with calcium and avoid in infants with hyperbilirubinemia
  9. ^ Procaine benzylpenicillin is not recommended as first-line treatment for neonatal sepsis except in settings with high neonatal mortality, when given by trained health workers in cases where hospital care is not achievable.
  10. ^ 3rd generation cephalosporin of choice for use in hospitalized neonates.
  11. ^ Only listed for the treatment of life‐threatening hospital‐based infection due to suspected or proven multidrug‐resistant infection
  12. ^ Only listed for single‐dose treatment of genital Chlamydia trachomatis and of trachoma.
  13. ^ For use in combination regimens for eradication of H. pylori in adults.
  14. ^ For use only in patients with HIV receiving protease inhibitors.
  15. ^ For treatment of latent TB infection (LTBI) only
  16. ^ Terizidone may be an alternative.
  17. ^ Prothionamide may be an alternative.
  18. ^ Ofloxacin and moxifloxacin may be alternatives based on availability and programme considerations.
  19. ^ a b FTC is an acceptable alternative to 3TC, based on knowledge of the pharmacology, the resistance patterns and clinical trials of antiretrovirals.
  20. ^ Potentially severe or complicated illness due to confirmed or suspected influenza virus infection in accordance with WHO treatment guidelines.
  21. ^ For the treatment of viral haemorrhagic fevers and in combination with pegylated interferons for the treatment of Hepatitis C.
  22. ^ For the treatment of hepatitis C, in combination with peginterferon and/or direct acting anti-viral medicines.
  23. ^ To be used in combination with ribavirin.
  24. ^ To be used in combination with artesunate 50 mg.
  25. ^ For use in the management of severe malaria.
  26. ^ Not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy or in children below 5 kg.
  27. ^ To be used in combination with either amodiaquine, mefloquine or sulfadoxine + pyrimethamine.
  28. ^ Other combinations that deliver the target doses required such as 153 mg or 200 mg (as hydrochloride) with 50 mg artesunate can be alternatives.
  29. ^ For use only for the treatment of P.vivax infection.
  30. ^ For use only in combination with quinine.
  31. ^ To be used in combination with artesunate 50 mg.
  32. ^ Only for use to achieve radical cure of P.vivax and P.ovale infections, given for 14 days.
  33. ^ For use only in the management of severe malaria, and should be used in combination with doxycycline.
  34. ^ Only in combination with artesunate 50 mg.
  35. ^ For use only in central American regions, for use for P.vivax.
  36. ^ For use only in combination with chloroquine.
  37. ^ To be used for the treatment of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense infection.
  38. ^ To be used for the treatment of the initial phase of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense infection.
  39. ^ To be used for the treatment of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense infection
  40. ^ Only to be used in combination with eflornithine, for the treatment of T. b. gambiense infection.
  41. ^ Deferasirox oral form may be an alternative, depending on cost and availability.
  42. ^ Polygeline, injectable solution, 3.5% is considered as equivalent.
  43. ^ a b c d Includes metoprolol and carvedilol as alternatives.
  44. ^ Hydralazine is listed for use in the acute management of severe pregnancy‐induced hypertension only. Its use in the treatment of essential hypertension is not recommended in view of the availability of more evidence of efficacy and safety of other medicines.
  45. ^ Methyldopa is listed for use in the management of pregnancy‐induced hypertension only. Its use in the treatment of essential hypertension is not recommended in view of the availability of more evidence of efficacy and safety of other medicines.
  46. ^ For use in high‐risk patients.
  47. ^ In acute diarrhoea zinc sulfate should be used as an adjunct to oral rehydration salts
  48. ^ Glibenclamide not suitable above 60 years.
  49. ^ Exact type to be defined locally.
  50. ^ a b c d e Recommended for some high-risk populations
  51. ^ a b c Recommended for certain regions
  52. ^ Or homatropine (hydrobromide) or cyclopentolate (hydrochloride).
  53. ^ Requires close medical supervision.
  54. ^ Ergocalciferol can be used as an alternative.
  55. ^ For use for rheumatic fever, juvenile arthritis, Kawasaki disease


  1. ^ "Comparative Table of Medicines on the WHO Essential Medicines Lists from 1977–2011" (XLS). World Health Organization. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  2. ^ "The WHO Essential Medicines List (EML): 30th anniversary". World Health Organization. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ Bansal, D; Purohit, VK (January 2013). "Accessibility and use of essential medicines in health care: Current progress and challenges in India.". Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics. 4 (1): 13–8. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.107642. PMID 23662019. 
  4. ^ "19th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (April 2015)" (PDF). WHO. April 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ "WHO moves to improve access to lifesaving medicines for hepatitis C, drug-resistant TB and cancers". 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.