Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WHO's List of Essential Medicines

The World Health Organization publishes a frequently-updated list of essential medicines, organized by type of drug and whether it's a "core" drug to treat high-priority conditions, or a complementary drug for settings with more resources and specialists. It flags drugs for which any equivalent drug in the same class is just as good, as well as those that are only for children or other subgroups. It's worth browsing if you're looking to put together an essential toolkit for a low-resource setting.

I get a little misty looking at this list. Every one of these drugs is a technological achievement, the result of years of work and centuries of scientific investigation into chemistry and physiology. We've gradually learned how the human machine works, and now we have this--a toolkit, a concise record of human smarts directed toward relief of disease and suffering. Creationists, the evolutionists you abhor use the same methods that the inventors of your blood-pressure pills did. And Luddites, take note: technology can serve the good. This list is proof.

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