CND day 3 – plenary statement of the Chair of the INCB on availability of essential medicines

The international drug control treaties recognise that narcotic drugs are indispensable for medical and scientific purposes. However, availability in many parts of the world are inadequate. The Board continues to monitor the availability of these substances, and has made dialogue on this issue a key one. Oxicodon and others are effective to treat moderate and severe pain. In 2008, a group of developed countries (Can, USA, Australia, New Zealand and EU) accounted for more than 90% of the use of these substances. The rest is therefore very low and almost inexistent in countries and entire regions.

Raw materials are sufficient for the production of these narcotics are not a barrier for availability. But other barriers continue to exist. The INCB requests governments to assess the requirements of availability and identify the factors making it difficult to meet these requirements. Governments should adopt measures to ensure the availability of such medications containing controlled substances. The Board continues its collaboration with the WHO to assist governments in increasing the availability of psychotropic drugs for medical purposes. We support WHO in producing guidelines to assist governments in assessing their national opioid level of availability. Governments should pay due regard to these guidelines. We call on other organisations to support WHO to ensure access to these programmes.

For the international drug control treaties to be implemented, governments must provide assessments about the legitimate requirement of such substances, which is a prerequisite in ensuring their availability. The Board is currently developing guidelines on the topic. These guidelines should assist countries of low level of consumption in such substances to provide information on these requirements. The Board welcomes the attention of the CND on availability.

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