WHO adds dolutegravir and PrEP to updated Essential Medicine List

Polly Clayden, HIV i-Base

Dolutegravir for treatment of HIV and PrEP with tenofovir alone, or in combination with FTC or 3TC are among the additions to the updated version of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Model list of essential medicines – according to a press release 6 June 2017.

The WHO Essential Medicines List (EML) is used by many countries to help increase access to medicines and guide decisions on which ones should be made available to their populations. Launched in 1977, the EML is updated every two years.

The updated EML has added 30 drugs for adults and 25 for children, giving a total of 433 considered essential to public health.

This version includes “the biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the EML’s 40-year history”, in which WHO experts have grouped antibiotics into three categories: access, watch and reserve.

As well as dolutegravir and PrEP for HIV, other new additions include drugs for hepatitis C and TB. Co-formulated sofosbuvir + velpatasvir is included, which is the first combination therapy to treat all six types of hepatitis C. And newly added TB medicines are: delamanid for children and adolescents with MDR-TB; clofazimine for children and adults with MDR-TB; and paediatric fixed-dose combination formulations of isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol and pyrazinamide.


Andrew Hill and his group have now estimated the real costs of the entire EML using the same methodology they first applied to HIV drugs and then extended to hepatitis, TB and cancer.

These costings will be released in the near future and there are many lessons to be learned from HIV access and pricing campaigns that could be applied to other essential medicines for low- and middle-income countries.


WHO press release. WHO updates Essential Medicines List with new advice on use of antibiotics, and adds medicines for hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis and cancer. 6 June 2017. Geneva.

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