November 20, 2016
On the Open Society Foundations website an explanatory article was published recently on the link between drug policies and access to medicines. The organization argues that drug control policies lean too heavily towards limiting access to medicines for which patients have a legitimate and urgent need. Especially access to opioid medicines, such as morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, is of particular concern.
These are all essential medicines for the treatment of pain. Access to these medicines is often heavily restricted, and therefore grossly underused. As a result of these policies, “nonuse or underuse of controlled medicines simply becomes an entrenched reality: medical school curricula stop teaching on the subject of controlled medicines, and policymakers are inexperienced in crafting measures to meet the challenge of balancing drug control and access to medicines. In addition, drug manufacturers may compound these barriers by pressuring countries to purchase the most expensive formulations of controlled medicines, and health authorities may be unaware of affordable options.”
Several years ago, IFHHRO published a position statement on this topic in English, Spanish, French and Russian, which can be accessed below. Our position is that instruction on pain management should be included in all mandatory medical and nursing curricula, and continuing medical and nursing education. Further, all drug control policies should balance the need for adequate availability and accessibility of controlled medicines with efforts to prevent the misuse of these substances. Finally, we urge governments to provide the necessary resources for the development and implementation of a national pain treatment plan.
Access the article The Link Between Drug Policy and Access to Medicines, www.opensocietyfoundations.org