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WHO updates ‘Essential Medicines List’ to help counter drug-resistance



World Health Organisation has recently had its biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the Essential Medicines List’s 40-year history.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) altered the Essential Medicines List (EML) to categorise antibiotics into three categories; Access, Watch and Reserve.

The motivation is to ensure that antibiotics are available when the need arises and the right kind of antibiotic is prescribed for the right infections.

Research suggests these changes should improve the outcomes and reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria. It will preserve the effectiveness of ‘last resort’ antibiotics such as gentamicin and vancomycin.

The new categories by WHO apply only to antibiotics used to treat the 21 most common ‘general’ infections. In the future it could be broadened in the future versions of EML to apply to drugs to treat other infections.


The antibiotics in the Access group should be available at all times as treatments for a wide range of common infections.

WATCH Group 

The Watch Group includes the antibiotics that are recommended as first or second-choice treatments for small number of infections.


The third group includes the antibiotics like gentamicin, vancomycin, colistin and cephalosporins which should be considered the last-resort for diseases. They should be used only when all the other alternatives have failed, for example, for life-threatening infections due to multi-drug resistant bacteria.

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Royal College of Midwives to end campaign to promote ‘normal births’




The Royal College of Midwives ends their campaign for “normal births” to avoid making mothers who opt for medical interventions feel like failures.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has been running a continuous campaign since 2005 to encourage expectant mothers to give birth without medical interventions such as; epidurals, inductions and caesareans.

Currently, around 40% of mothers give birth without medical interventions. 20% less than 30 years ago. But experts say a significant number of these are due to the increase in more risky pregnancies.

Prof Cathy Warwick, the Chief Executive of the RCM, said;

“There was a danger that if you just talk about normal births – and particularly if you call it a campaign – it kind of sounds as if you’re only interested in women who have a vaginal birth without intervention”.

“What we don’t want to do is in any way contribute to any sense that a woman has failed because she hasn’t had a normal birth. Unfortunately, that seems to be how some women feel.”

“What we don’t want to do is in any way contribute to any sense that a woman has failed because she hasn’t had a normal birth. Unfortunately that seems to be how some women feel.”

Midwives, will instead, start to use the term “physiological births” to describe those without interventions.

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Pancreatic cancer patients to have routine access to life extending drug after new deal



NICE has recommended nab-paclitaxel for routine NHS use after the company agreed a confidential price discount and provided more evidence on its effectiveness.

Nab-paclitaxel, also known as Abraxane, made by Celgene will be routinely available as an option for patients with pancreatic cancer that has progressed.

When Abraxane is added to a standard chemotherapy, called gemcibatine the evidence has found it extends life by an average of 2.4 months.

If other combination chemotherapy treatments are unsuitable for a patient, NICE recommends offering Abraxane instead of this standard chemotherapy on its own.

It works by blocking the action of the proteins within cancer cells that cause them to grow and divide.

NICE has reviewed its guidance from 2015 which did not recommend Abraxane for routine NHS use for not being cost-effective.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, said: The life expectancy of pancreatic cancer is poor, with patients usually living for only up to 6 months. It’s incredibly important that patients and families affected by this disease are able to have routine access to this life extending treatment.”

There are almost 10,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer each year in the UK, and less than 1% survive for 10 or more years.

This is a final appraisal determination for Abraxane. The company, healthcare professionals and patient/carer organisations now have until Friday 1 September to appeal the decision.

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