14th edition (March 2005)
The core list presents a list of minimum medicine needs for a basic health care system, listing the most efficacious, safe and cost-effective medicines for priority conditions. Priority conditions are selected on the basis of current and estimated future public health relevance, and potential for safe and cost-effective treatment.
The complementary list presents essential medicines for priority diseases, for which specialized diagnostic or monitoring facilities, and/or specialist medical care, and/or specialist training are needed. In case of doubt medicines may also be listed as complementary on the basis of consistent higher costs or less attractive cost-effectiveness in a variety of settings.
When the strength of a drug is specified in terms of a selected salt or ester, this is mentioned in brackets; when it refers to the active moiety, the name of the salt or ester in brackets is preceded by the word "as".
The square box symbol () is primarily intended to indicate similar clinical performance within a pharmacological class. The listed medicine should be the example of the class for which there is the best evidence for effectiveness and safety. In some cases, this may be the first medicine that is licensed for marketing; in other instances, subsequently licensed compounds may be safer or more effective. Where there is no difference in terms of efficacy and safety data, the listed medicine should be the one that is generally available at the lowest price, based on international drug price information sources. Therapeutic equivalence is only indicated on the basis of reviews of efficacy and safety and when consistent with WHO clinical guidelines. National lists should not use a similar symbol and should be specific in their final selection, which would depend on local availability and price.
Drugs are listed in alphabetical order, within sections.