OBJECTIVE: To perform a critical comparison between the Brazilian national essential medicines list (Rename, 2012) with the list of essential medicines for children (LEMC, 2011) of the World Health Organization (WHO), regarding the differences among drugs and formulations listed for children. METHODS: The LEMC drugs were classified into four categories: 1) absent in Rename; 2) included in Rename but without any formulation suitable for children; 3) listed in Rename only in some formulations; 4) present in Rename in all formulations. The missing formulations were analyzed by therapeutic group. Alternatives present in Rename were searched. RESULTS: From the 261 drugs of interest on the LEMC, 30.3% are absent from Rename, 11.1% are in Rename but without any pediatric formulation, and 32.2% are present in some but not all formulations listed in LEMC. Considering all formulations items listed in the LEMC (n = 577), 349 are missing from Rename, of these 19.6% due to their strength, and 18.5% due to the the dosage form. Useful formulations specific for neonatal care, respiratory tract, central nervous system, and anti-infectives, among other groups, are missing. CONCLUSIONS: The lack of age-appropriate formulations of essential medicines for children in Brazil includes important therapeutic groups and indispensable drugs for severe clinical conditions. Some of these products exist in the Brazilian pharmaceutical market, but not in public facilities; others could be produced by national laboratories with commercial interest or stimulated by a specific governmental policy, as in other countries.
Newborn; Infant; Child; Pharmaceutical preparations; Health public policy; Drugs, essential