On November 25-29, 1985, the World Health Organization held a ‘Conference of Experts on the Rational Use of Drugs’ in Nairobi. It was called in response to the mounting criticisms levelled against what is increasingly recognized as ‘the irrational use of drugs’ in both the industrialized countries and the Third World. The background to the Nairobi conference was the following. In the early eighties, both the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA) and Health Action International (HAI) had developed codes of pharmaceutical marketing practices in an attempt to come to grips with the malpractices in this field. It was, however, generally felt that a more comprehensive approach was needed, covering not only the marketing of drugs but the wider issue of the role of pharmaceuticals in health care seen in a global perspective with particular reference to the problems confronting the Third World. These considerations led the World Health Assembly, in 1984, to request the Director-General of the WHO to arrange in 1985 a meeting of experts of the concerned parties, ‘including governments, pharmaceutical industries, and patients’ and consumers’ organizations’, to discuss the means and methods of ensuring the rational use of drugs.