Published on: March 10, 2011

Mr Rakesh Menon picked up the International Herald Tribune on his flight back from India to London – the mention of “Pain Relief” caught his eye. The IHT had published a small report, via Reuters, on the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) decrying the lack of access to medicines for pain management in most of the world in their Annual Report:

U.N. drugs board decries poor access to pain relief

More than 80 percent of the world’s people have insufficient or no access to pain relief drugs and are suffering unnecessarily because of it, the United Nations global drugs watchdog said Wednesday.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said in a report that many countries in Africa, Asia and parts of the Americas had very little or no access to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical purposes.

“Ninety percent of the licit drugs are consumed by 10 percent of the world’s population in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and some European countries,” Hamid Ghodse, the INCB’s president, told a briefing.

Narcotic drugs such as morphine, fantanyl and oxycodone and opioid analgesics and are often used in the treatment of patients with illnesses such as cancer and AIDS who can suffer severe pain as their diseases advance.

Read more at…

The situation is sad, of course. Very sad. But it is heartening that INCB reports on it so prominently.

The primary responsibility of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is to “control” the use of opioids. It is reassuring that the INCB feels that control does not only mean prevention of misuse, but that adequate supply of opioids for medical needs is part of that control. INCB laments the lack of opioids for pain relief in countries like India!

PDF links to full report and presentations from their launch event:


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