Treatment update

Calcipotriol on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines

19 October 2021

By IFPA

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its Model List of Essential Medicines to include topical calcipotriol (a vitamin D derivative). Calcipotriol is currently available as an ointment cream and scalp solution to treat moderate forms of psoriasis.

The WHO expert committee stated that calcipotriol is as effective as other therapeutic topical steroids. However, calcipotriol is favorably safer compared to other topical corticosteroids because of its low absorption into the system leading to fewer side effects. The recent inclusion of calcipotriol follows the successful submission put forward by the international league of Dermatology societies (ILDs). ILDs is one of leading dermatological societies and IFPA collaborating partners for the Global Psoriasis Atlas (GPA).

What does this mean for people living with psoriatic disease?

For people living with psoriasis, including calcipotriol in the Model List of Essential Medicines addresses an unmet public health need. The recognition of this topical treatment option will support improved access and availability at the country level. Calcipotriol will now be considered a minimum requirement for all health systems.

IFPA welcomes the addition of safe, effective and affordable treatment options for people living with psoriatic disease. We, however, continue to stress the importance of shared decision-making between healthcare providers and patients.


Essential Medicines need to be
  • Available
  • Accessible
  • Acceptable
  • Affordable

Read more about the 2021 update to the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines here.

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