Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (WHO)

Karen Knaus & Willman Pearcey

In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Society

Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (WHO)

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  • The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC) is a drug classification system currently maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology. The ATC provides a common reference for the description of drugs marketed in different countries and regions despite the naming irregularities, such as different name brands, between among countries and regions.


    This classification system originated at a symposium in Oslo, Norway, in 1969, when it was agreed that an internationally accepted naming system was needed in order to effectively communicate drug types and uses within countries and professions. The ATC system was initially established by Norwegian researchers, whose inspiration came from extending and refining the European Pharmaceutical Market Research classification system. In 1975, the Nordic Council on Medicines collaborated ...

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