Open Journal Systems

WHO’s Incorporation of Essential Medications for Multiple Sclerosis

Abigail Elliott, Kiret Singh Sangha


The World Health Organization (WHO) was founded in 1948 and serves as the United Nations agency that promotes global health.  Every two years, the WHO publishes the Model list of Essential Medicines (EML). The purpose of the EML is to provide a list of medications to meet the needs of various nations. Medications included on the list are of high priority and are considered as essential to provide evidence- based prescribing. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the protective covering around nerves (myelin) in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This disease affects approximately 2.3 million people worldwide.  MS is the most common non- traumatic disabling disease to affect young adults.  There are many classes of disease- modifying therapies for MS. These medications include interferons, glatiramer, teriflunomide, S1P receptor modulators, fumarates, cladribine,  and several different monoclonal antibodies. Through the effort of many MS advocacy groups and organizations, the three medications cladribine, glatiramer acetate, and rituximab were added to the WHO’s 2023 update to the EML. This decision was a crucial step in improving access to MS treatments for people living with MS, especially for those in low- and middle-income countries. This decision will assist with the availability and affordability of these medications which will in turn impact the health of people with MS all over the world.


Essential Medicines List; Cladribine; Glatiramer acetate; Rituximab

References Accessed 03/20/2024

Purgato M, Barbui C. What is the WHO essential medicines list? Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2012 Dec;21(4):343-5. doi: 10.1017/S204579601200039X. Epub 2012 Jul 30. PMID: 22846155; PMCID: PMC6998134.

Dobson R, Giovannoni G. Multiple sclerosis - a review. Eur J Neurol. 2019 Jan;26(1):27-40. doi: 10.1111/ene.13819. Epub 2018 Nov 18. PMID: 30300457.

Who EML 23rd list (2023).

About Glatiramer acetate injection. About Glatiramer Acetate Injection.

Lexicomp [Internet]. Hudson (OH): Wolters Kluwer, c 2018. [cited 2023 March 14].

Ibrahim, A. (2023, August 29). Who’s decision brings hope to people with MS worldwide. MS International Federation.

Full Text: PDF

Article Level Metrics


  • There are currently no refbacks.