International meeting of world pharmacopoeias says collaboration is key to improving access to essential medicines

Thirteen national, regional and international pharmacopoeias representing 50 pharmacopoeial authorities around the world gathered in Da Nang, Viet Nam on 18-19 April 2018 to attend the ninth international meeting of world pharmacopoeias (IMWP). The meeting was chaired by the Vietnamese Pharmacopoeia and co-chaired by representatives from the Brazilian and Japanese Pharmacopoeias.

In his opening remarks, Dr Doan Cao Son, Director of the National Institute of Drug Quality Control in Viet Nam, said that good pharmacopoeial practices (GPhP) help pharmacopoeias in different countries to strive towards harmonization of standards and to recognize published standards between pharmacopoeial authorities.

Today, there are 56 pharmacopoeias in the world(1). A pharmacopoeia’s core mission is to protect public health by creating and making available public standards to help ensure the quality of medicines.

“Universal access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines can only happen when medicines are manufactured, stored and distributed according to quality standards that underpin the assurance that they are acceptably safe and efficacious before they become available on the market,” said Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.

The IMWP has been convened by the WHO since 2012 with the first eight meetings focusing on the development of GPhPs. This year, the meeting focused on creating new collaboration models and improving information sharing. The participants agreed to establish a pharmacopoeial alert system among the pharmacopoeias to exchange information on issues detected with products covered by monographs that necessitate urgent action by a pharmacopeia. The delegations also agreed to use the annual IMWP as a discussion forum to inform each other of recent challenges and share solutions found.

The event comes at the right time as this year also marks the 40th Anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care, placing a spotlight on universal health coverage (UHC). UHC means everyone, everywhere can access quality health services and essential medicines and vaccines they need without financial hardship. Today, at least half of the world’s population still lacks access to these basic needs. To achieve UHC by 2030, at least 1 billion more people will need to have access to essential health services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines in the next 5 years.

Dr Park urged the meeting delegates to continue to strengthen their collaboration. “In doing so, we can make sure that affordable, safe and quality medicines are available to citizens of our countries and the world”.

The tenth IMWP will be held in New Delhi (India) in February 2019.

(1)WHO Index of World Pharmacopoeias and Pharmacopoeial Authorities