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DEVELOPMENT DIALOGUE. 1985; (2):15-37.This paper discusses the principles involved in formulating international standards to regulate the appropriate use of drugs. It focuses particular attention on the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in organizing this. The following questions are addressed: What is meant by the appropriate use of drugs? What are the main determinants of appropriate drug use that all the main actors agree on? How appropriately are drugs used today? To what extent are the standards agreed on in principle actually observed in practice? Is regulation called for? What kind of regulation is appropriate? What standards would meet the needs of all countries? Appropriate drug use is the provision of drugs to people who really need them and restiction of the supply of drugs to those who don't need them. Primary health care requires a continuous supply of essential drugs. As many as 70% of the pharmaceuticals on the market today are inessential and/or undesirable products, and many pharmaceutical products are marketed today with little concern for the differing health needs and priorities of individual countries. Few countries systematically monitor drug prescribing standards and consumption patterns. There is chronic and serious under-reporting of adverse reactions to drugs. Regulation implies control over the activities of the main drug producers. This requires international initiatives, since an essentially transnational industry is involved. Transnational corporations dominate the world market for drugs. All pharmaceutical products must be approved and registered for use by the competent government authority. All pharmaceutical products shall have full regard to the needs of public health.
DEVELOPMENT DIALOGUE. 1985; (2):1-4.On November 25-29, 1985, the World Health Organization held a Conference in Nairobi of Experts on the Rational Use of Drugs. In the early 1980s, both the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA) and Health Action International (HAI) had developed codes of pharmaceutical marketing practices in order to come to terms with the malpractices in this field. A more comprehensive approach was needed, however. Prime responsibility for rational drug use must rest with the member governments, operating through national regulatory authorities and assisted in their work by guidelines on minimum requirements for national drug regulation prepared by WHO. The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation organized a seminar on Another Development in Pharmaceuticals as an independent contribution to the international debate on this global issue. The seminar emphasized that development should be need-oriented, self-reliant, and based on structural transformations. Governments view the pharmaceutical crisis as 1 facet of the more general problem of spiralling health costs which put an intolerable burden on already overstretched welfare services. The pharmaceutical industry sees the crisis largely in terms of excessively restrictive regulations which stifle innovation of products. Some doctors and pharmacists feel that increased regulatory measures will erode their rights to prescribe and to control the supply and information to patients. On the other hand, some clinical pharmacologists and administrators express concern about excessive, irrational and uneconomic prescribing and its effects on public health. Consumer groups define the problem in terms of an overbearing and greedy business community. The general public fail to understand the effects of pharmaceuticals.