Richard Mattick launches global opioid availability report in Vienna

February 2016

NDARC’s Professor Richard Mattick, board member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) presented the findings of the Board’s report on the Availability of Internationally Controlled Drugs to the United Heads of Mission in Vienna on February 3rd 2016.

An accompanying Lancet paper on the use of and barriers to use of analgesic opioids worldwide was also presented to UN delegates at the meeting, the 115th Session of the INCB. The report found that 75 per cent of the world’s population had inadequate access to pain medication in direct contravention of international conventions which committed to “make adequate provision to ensure, and not to unduly restrict, the availability of drugs that were considered indispensable for medical and scientific purposes”.

In contrast high income western countries and regions including North America, Western and Central Europe and Australia and New Zealand, accounted for more than 95 per cent of global opioid use. In Australia use of the medications increased more than four-fold in 10 years from 2001. Professor Mattick said that while the correct level of opioid prescribing was “unclear” the lack of availability of these medications in low-income countries for the management of cancer pain “is a terrible situation causing massive suffering”.

See a summary of the Lancet article in Publication Highlights.

Click on the link to read the full INCB Report, Availability of Internationally Controlled Drugs: Ensuring Adequate Access for Medical and Scientific Purposes.