CND Day 1 – Agenda Item 6 (d): International cooperation to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes while preventing their diversion

INCB President – 75% of the world’s population live without access to proper pain relief medication. In 1961, the international community committed to make adequate provisions to ensure access to pain medication while tackling diversion for illicit use.

Addressing discrepancies in availability of controlled medicines is the responsibilities of governments due to their obligations under the treaties.
The reason for underperformance is not due to a lack of raw materials. The licit production of opiates outstrips demand. The supply at the moment is more than sufficient to meet demand.

Many countries have made improvements to access and NGOs have been key in helping this. However, a great deal of progress still needs to be made.

There’s been an increase in the misuse of prescription drugs in some countries and extra efforts should be made to ensure medicines aren’t diverted for illicit use.

A matter that is often neglected in this issue is the access to medicines controlled under the 1971 convention. Psychotropic substances have key medical uses, particularly pertaining to mental health. The use of psychotropic substances in treatment of mental illnesses depends on many factors, including medical and prescription practices that may vary among countries. The board urges countries to continue providing data on consumption of psychotropic substances.

Governments should undertake diagnosis at the national level on the issue of access to medicines. The work of competent national authorities cannot be over emphasised.

The board will publish a special report in early 2016 as a supplement to the 2015 annual report. It will address access to medicines and will be presented at next year’s CND.

The requirement of the UN drug treaties are well functioning national drug control systems.

UNODC Access to Pain Medications Program

A brief summary of our joint global program. This focuses on increasing access to controlled drugs for medical purposes.

Two thirds of people in the developing world dying of cancer don’t get pain relief in the form of opioid analgesics.

The joint global program has 4 key areas:

  1. Drug Availability
  2. Policy – full policy review
  3. Education – palliative care expert teams to train in each region
  4. Implementation

Our 3 partners are UNODC, WHO and UICC. They’ve worked together strongly in recent years with support from the Australian government and we welcome strong support from other governments.

The first country we piloted work in was Ghana in 2014. In 2015 we’re going on a mission back to Ghana to look at policy issues that remain as barriers to access, and we taking steps to working with Timor Leste.

I appreciate support from member states and welcome their engagement on this issue.

WHO – As part of our normative work we included in 2013 a specific section on pain and palliative care as essential. Our guidelines promote a balanced policy at the national level and a policy that shores up access to controlled medicines.

The joint global program offers an opportunity for our three organisations to work together and promote this issue.

Australia – We acknowledge the leadership and guidance from the INCB, UNODC and WHO in working to improve access to medicines.

We’re concerned that there isn’t adequate provision to ensure access to controlled medicines in certain countries. We encourage all member states to engage on this issue and work toward improving access.

Mexico – We’ll continue to cooperate with the INCB in the most constructive manner possible. Concerning item 6 (d), diagnosis carried out by the Mexican government found that domestic licit consumption of analgesics for pain relief was low, particularly in the case of morphine. We’ve been working since 2014 to ensure access is improved in our country to these controlled medicines.Republic of Korea – We share the same concerns on this matter. We attach great importance to international cooperation to ensure access to controlled medicines while working to prevent their diversion for illicit use.

We envision the creation of a system under the auspices of the INCB to address the discrepancies in terms of supply and demand of these substances for licit use.

UICC – We’re an international NGO with over 800 member organisations. We work to ensure opioid analgesics are available to people dying of cancer. In most of the world, people don’t have access to basic pain relief medication and palliative care services. We welcome the progress made at CND over the pasty 5 years in bringing attention to lack of availability, as well as continued focus on this issue by the INCB and UNODC.

We thank the Australian government for their support of the joint program, and encourage other states to support this to ensure it is successful. We should not forget that one of the greatest world drug problems is that billions of people don’t have access to pain medication.

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