Ensuring Palliative Medicine Availability

The Development of the IAHPC List of Essential Medicines for Palliative Care

Published in: Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, v. 33, no. 5, May 2007, p. 521-526

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Liliana De Lima, Eric L. Krakauer, Karl Lorenz, David Praill, Neil MacDonald, Derek Doyle

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In response to a request from the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) developed a List of Essential Medicines for Palliative Care based on the consensus of palliative care workers from around the world. IAHPC designed a process of five steps, which included developing a set of ethical guidelines; identifying the most common symptoms in palliative care; identifying a list of medications to treat those symptoms; carrying out a survey using a modified Delphi process with participants from developed and developing countries; and convening a meeting of representatives from regional, international, and scientific organizations to develop the final list. Twenty-one symptoms were identified as the most common in palliative care, and an initial list of 120 medications resulted from the initial survey. Seventy-one participants from developing and developed countries responded to the Delphi survey and agreed on the effectiveness and safety of 48 medications for 18 of the 21 symptoms. The final step included discussions among representatives from 26 organizations, which led to the finalization of the list. The IAHPC List of Essential Medicines for Palliative Care includes 33 medications, of which 14 are already included in the WHO Model List. The participants agreed that there is too little evidence to recommend medications for five of the symptoms and suggested that further research be carried out to solve this need. The IAHPC and all the organizations involved in this process welcome suggestions on ways to continue to improve the List of Essential Medicines for Palliative Care and to improve access to medications for patients in need.

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