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WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TECHNICAL REPORT SERIES. 1988; (770):1-63.This booklet incorporates both guidelines and criteria for establishing national programs for essential drugs, and a suggested list of approximately 250 essential drugs. It is important to emphasize that it is up to each country to decide whether to implement an essential drug policy, and how to adapt the list to their own changing needs. Guidelines for a national program include accepting recommendations by a local committee; using generic names and providing a cross index; providing a drug information sheet to accompany the list; regulation or constant testing of quality of the drugs; deciding on the level of expertise needed to prescribe each drug; administration of supply, storage and distribution. Choice of drugs is based on quality, bioavailability, safety, price and availability. Criteria for selection of drugs for primary health care involves evaluation of existing medical care systems, the national health infrastructure, trained personnel and available supplies, and the pattern of endemic disease. Each agent is listed by its international nonproprietary name (INN), is accompanied by substitutions and complementary drugs, and is described by its route of administration, dosage form and strength. Listings are by category and alphabetically.