About this programme

Working together for better medicines


The WHO issued its report ‘Priority Medicines for Europe and the World’, detailing what medicines society needs, at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The Netherlands responded by establishing the Top Institute Pharma (TI Pharma). ZonMw submitted proposals for four programmes to the Ministry in 2006-2007:

  • Priority Medicines voor Kinderen
  • Priority Medicines voor Ouderen
  • Priority Medicines and Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Priority Medicines for Rare Conditions and Orphan Drugs

The Priority Medicines and Antimicrobial Resistance, Priority Medicines voor Ouderen and Priority Medicines voor kinderen programmes will launch in 2009.

ZonMw’s Priority Medicines for Children programme proposal was approved in late 2008, and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has now made funding available. The main aim of the programme is to foster research into the effects of existing medicines in children, in order to achieve more evidence-based use of medication in paediatric care. The programme aims to combine and strengthen the Netherlands’ current expertise in paediatrics, pharmacological research and a number of specific disorders. Various types of grant are available under the national Priority Medicines for Children programme:

1. Multidisciplinary projects

Two rounds of applications are planned for multidisciplinary projects (in 2009 and 2010).

Multidisciplinary research will focus on the following themes: 

  • Action mechanisms and effectivity of medicines in children
  • Long-term effects of the use of medicines by children
  • Pharmacological treatment of young children, particularly how medicines are administered.

Research on these themes should preferably focus on diabetes, asthma, infectious diseases and psychological disorders. Only a restricted part (max. € 1 million) of the total budget will be available for research in other disease areas.Clinical studies for product development and the development of new medicines do not fall within the focus of this research programme.

2. Ethical and legal research

Small-scale research projects focusing on ethical and legal issues may be eligible for financing. 


Priority medicines are treatments for existing and emerging diseases for which only substandard medicines are currently available, if at all. In this case, ‘substandard’ means medicines that produce many side-effects in patients, or are insufficiently effective, or are not properly tailored to the patients in question. The term ‘medicines’ is used in the broad sense, and includes new forms of treatment based on biotechnology, including tissue engineering and gene therapy. Research into ways of administering treatment would also tie in with the innovative character of this programme.

The Priority Medicines for Children programme was launched in 2004 in response to the WHO report ‘Priority Medicines for Europe and the World’.

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