Cancer patients don't get enough pain relievers

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More than half of the world's population is medically underserved

More than half of the world's population has no way of getting enough pain reliever medication. This is the result of a study by the "European Society for Medical Oncology". Accordingly, adequate care fails primarily because of far-reaching anti-drug laws, which would result in severe restrictions in many countries. According to the report, developing countries are particularly affected.

Anti-drug laws prevent access to medication As the European Society for Medical Oncology and its partner organizations found out as part of the "Global Opioid Policy Initiative (GOPI)" project, more than half of all people worldwide lack adequate access to painkillers. According to the report, this undersupply is primarily caused by the numerous anti-drug laws in many countries, which define many active substances as drugs and therefore must not be used for freely accessible medicines.

Investigation of access to codeine or morphine For the study, the researchers evaluated questionnaires that had been sent to non-governmental doctors in numerous developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. The focus was on the extent to which seven low-cost active ingredients, such as codeine or morphine, are available in the respective countries - because these drugs are particularly indispensable for the treatment of cancer.

"Over-regulation pandemic"
The researchers came to a frightening conclusion: "The GOPI study uncovered a pandemic of over-regulation in large parts of the Third World, which makes it catastrophically difficult to provide basic medicines to relieve severe pain in cancer," said the study's lead author, Nathan Cherny.

Palliative medicine and obstetrics are also badly affected According to Nathan Cherny, there are also enormous deficits in care in other medical areas: “The majority of the world's population still has access to opioids for pain therapy for cancer, in palliative medicine and for acute, postoperative obstetrics and chronic pain. "

"Global Scandal"
For Nathan Cherny, this situation is completely incomprehensible: "If we consider that effective treatments are cheap and available, untreated cancer pain and the terrible consequences for patients and their families are a scandal on a global scale," said ESMO Palliative Care Chairman Working Group. (Nr)

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