In 1981, the WHO Regional Office for Europe recommended the ATC/DDD system for international drug utilization studies. In connection with this, and to make the methodology more widely used, there was a need for a central body responsible for co-ordinating the use of the methodology. The WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology was accordingly established in Oslo in 1982. The Centre is now located at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The Norwegian government funds the Centre.
In 1996, WHO recognized the need to develop use of the ATC/DDD system as an international standard for drug utilization studies. The Centre was therefore linked directly to WHO Headquarters in Geneva instead of the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen. This was seen as important to allow close integration of international drug utilization studies and WHO’s initiatives to achieve universal access to needed drugs and rational use of drugs particularly in developing countries. Access to standardized and validated information on drug use is essential to allow audit of patterns of drug utilization, identification of problems, educational or other interventions and monitoring of the outcomes of the interventions.
When the decision on globalizing the ATC/DDD system was taken, the WHO Division of Drug Management and Policies established the WHO International Working Group for Drug Statistics Methodology. The WHO Collaborating Centre for Drug Statistics Methodology receives expert advice from the Working Group.