WHO Says Patients With Cancer Caught in the Opioid Crisis

Patients with cancer in developing nations are being denied opioids for pain management due to fears surrounding the opioid crisis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO, two-thirds of developed countries have oral morphine available in more than half of their pharmacies compared with just 6 percent of developing countries. A reported 55% of patients undergoing anti-cancer treatment experience pain, as do 66% of patients who have advanced, metastatic, or terminal disease.

“Nobody, cancer patients or not cancer patients, should live or die in pain in the 21st century,” Etienne Krug, MD, MPH, director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases at the WHO, said during a briefing. “In some parts of the world … these drugs circulate too freely and are used for addictions. There is a real, justified fear of that, but it should not come at the expense of those who live in pain or die in pain.”

Ahead of World Cancer on February 4, WHO released “Guidelines for the pharmacological and radiotherapeutic management of cancer pain in adults and adolescents.” The guidelines state that oral morphine is “essential treatment for moderate to severe cancer pain.”

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Source: Reuters