Overregulation 'hurting' cancer patients
Lugano, Switzerland, November 28, 2013
Untreated cancer pain and its horrendous consequences for patients and their families is a ‘scandal of global proportions,’ said a survey.
The international survey showed that more than half of the world's population live in countries where regulations aiming to stem drug misuse leave patients without access to opioid medicines for managing cancer pain.
The Global Opioid Policy Initiative (Gopi) project showed that more than four billion people live in countries where regulations leave cancer patients suffering excruciating pain.
"The Gopi has uncovered a pandemic of overregulation in much of the developing world that is making it catastrophically difficult to provide basic medication to relieve strong cancer pain," said Nathan Cherny, ESMO Palliative Care Working Group Chair, lead author of the report, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Israel.
"Most of the world's population lacks the necessary access to opioids for cancer pain management and palliative care."
National governments must take urgent action to improve access to these medicines, said ESMO, with 22 partners that launched the first global survey to evaluate opioids availability and accessibility for cancer pain management.
The study conducted in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East assessed the availability of the seven opioid medications considered essential for cancer pain relief by the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines and the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care codeine, oral oxycodone, transdermal fentanyl, immediate and slow release oral morphine, injectable morphine, oral methadone.
While there were found to be problems with the supply in many countries, the main problem was overregulation that makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to prescribe and administer them for legitimate medical use.
"This is a tragedy born out of good intentions," said Cherny. "When opioids are overregulated, the precautionary measures to prevent abuse and diversion are excessive and impair the ability of healthcare systems to relieve real suffering."
Co-author James Cleary, Pain and Policy Studies Group director and Palliative Medicine founding director, UW Carbone Cancer Center, Wisconsin, US, said: "Regulatory reform must be partnered with healthcare providers education in the safe and responsible use of opioid medication, education of the public to destigmatise opioid analgesics and improved infrastructure for supply and distribution." - TradeArabia News Service
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