Everything on the Topic of Suffering

2007 September 10

Millions die in awful pain for lack of inexpensive opioids

Filed under: Opioids — robertdaoust @ 5:15 pm

Excerpt from  New-York Times article Drugs Banned, Many of World’s Poor Suffer in Pain:

“The World Health Organization estimates that 4.8 million people a year with moderate to severe cancer pain receive no appropriate treatment. Nor do another 1.4 million with late-stage AIDS. For other causes of lingering pain — burns, car accidents, gunshots, diabetic nerve damage, sickle-cell disease and so on — it issues no estimates but believes that millions go untreated. Figures gathered by the International Narcotics Control Board, a United Nations agency, make it clear: citizens of rich nations suffer less. Six countries — the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Australia — consume 79 percent of the world’s morphine, according to a 2005 estimate. The poor and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world’s people live consumed only about 6 percent.” 

Abstract from Joranson DE, Ryan KM. Ensuring opioid availability: Methods and resources. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007; 33(5):527-532:

“The pain and palliative care fields are encouraged to learn about government drug control policy and to engage with their governments to examine these policies and their implementation in order to address impediments to patient access to pain management. Although pain management is a necessary part of palliative care, it is often impossible because strict national and state regulations block access to opioid analgesics. It is important for us to know that in adhering to international drug treaties, governments often concentrate on drug control to the exclusion of their obligation to ensure opioid availability for medical and scientific purposes. Indeed, international health and regulatory authorities are increasingly concerned about wide disparities in national consumption of opioid analgesics and have called on governments to address barriers in their national laws and regulations that govern the prescribing of opioid analgesics. The Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG) has developed methods and resources to assist governments and pain and palliative care groups to examine national policies and make regulatory changes. Romania, India, and Italy are examples. The PPSG is developing several new resources, including a training program for Fellows from low- and middle-income countries, enhanced support of collaborators working on opioid availability, an internet course in international pain policy, an improved website with policy resources and country profiles, and new approaches to the study of opioid consumption indicators.”

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