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WHO Issues Comprehensive Recommendations On Children’s Medicines

The WHO on Friday issued “its first-ever guidance on how to use more than 240 essential medicines for children under 13,” the Associated Press reports. “The data provide information on use, dosage and side effects of medicines as well as warnings about which children should not take them” and possible complications from interactions from drugs taken together, according to the WHO, the news service reports (6/19).

Though “[s]ome countries have developed their own formularies, [the WHO Model Formulary for Children] is the first comprehensive guide for medicines used around the world,” U.N. News Centre writes. “The new formulary is based on information from around the world as to which medicines should be used to treat specific conditions, how they should be administered and in what dose” (6/18).

“Nearly nine million children under the age of five die every year, many of them from conditions that could be treated with safe, effective medicines. … Lack of medicines for children is a global problem, which most acutely affects developing countries,” according to a WHO factsheet that highlights the need for drug manufacturers to “produce medicines for priority conditions e.g. fixed dose combinations for malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as antibiotics for neonatal infections” (June 2010).

“To be effective, medicines must be carefully chosen and the dose adjusted to suit the age, weight and needs of children,” Hans Hogerzeil, director of essential medicines and pharmaceutical policies at WHO, said, according to U.N. News Centre. “Without a global guide, many health-care professionals have had to prescribe medicines based on very limited evidence,” he added (6/18).

The 528-page “WHO document only exists in English. But the agency recommends that governments use it as a model and translate it into their national language, spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said,” the AP adds (6/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.