WHO Approves Essential Medicines for Multiple Sclerosis while Obesity Drugs are Excluded

By Danélia Botes

August 10, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a significant move in global health by releasing new editions of the Model Lists of Essential Medicines (EML) and Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc). These lists include new medicines for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, cancer, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular conditions among others.

The aim? To increase access to innovative medicines that show clear clinical benefits, without stretching the health budgets of low- and middle-income countries.

With a record 85 applications considered, the updated lists now include a total of 502 medicines on the EML and 361 on the EMLc.

For the first time, medicines for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), such as cladribine, glatiramer acetate, and rituximab have been included in the EML. These drugs can delay or slow the progression of MS, offering improved access to treatment for people living with this chronic condition. MS affects approximately 2.8 million people worldwide.
However, it’s important to note that obesity drugs including glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists for weight loss, were not included in the updated EML. This decision is based on the EML’s criteria, which only includes medicines that have solid evidence for safety and efficacy.

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