Health March 29, 2023 | 2:35 pm

The WHO analyzes including anti-obesity drugs in its list of essential medicines

A recent article from Reuters suggests that drugs aimed at treating obesity may be added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of essential medicines for the first time. The WHO’s list of essential medicines is used as a guide for governments in low- and middle-income countries when making purchasing decisions. Essential medicines are defined as drugs that meet the priority healthcare needs of the population.

The need for effective treatments for obesity is pressing, with over 650 million adults worldwide now classified as obese, more than triple the rate in 1975, and a further 1.3 billion classified as overweight. Approximately 70% of those affected live in low- and middle-income countries. The number of people with obesity is projected to rise to 1.9 billion by 2035, meaning almost one in four people worldwide will have the condition. Similarly, it is estimated that almost 400 million children will be affected by obesity by 2035, representing almost one in five children globally.

Obesity is associated with over 200 other health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, fatty liver, and certain types of cancer. A WHO advisory panel will be reviewing new drug requests next month, with an updated list of essential medicines expected to be released in September.

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