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Biosci Trends. 2018;12(5):445-449. doi: 10.5582/bst.2018.01265.

China issues the National Essential Medicines List (2018 edition): Background, differences from previous editions, and potential issues.

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Department of Health Policy Research, Shanghai Health Development Research Center, Shanghai Medical Information Center.
School of Public Health, Fudan University.
College of Business Administration, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University.


On October 25, 2018, the National Health Commission of China issued the National Essential Medicines List (2018 edition) [NEML (2018)]. The NEML (2018) contains 685 drugs, which consist of 417 chemicals and biological products and 268 Chinese patent medicines. Compared to the 2012 version of the NEML, a total number of 165 drugs were added, representing an increase of 31.7%. The biggest increase (90.9%) is in Chinese patent medicines for surgical use. The NEML (2018) set up the category of pediatric medications for the first time, and 11 cancer drugs were added. The NEML (2018) is characterized by: "basic" to "comprehensive" coverage, it includes both Chinese and Western medicines, it now includes pediatric drugs, and more cancer drugs have been added. There are several issues with the new NEML such as the link between the essential medicines system and the medical insurance system and establishment of firm support for implementation.


National Essential Medicines List; comparative analysis; essential medicines system

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