Jason Nickerson and Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa, Canada examine in this week's PLoS Medicine the vast inequities in medical pain relief around the world, arguing that the imbalance has arisen from restrictive drug laws designed to prevent access to illegal substances, and proposing that the global control of licit narcotics be shifted from the International Narcotic Control Board to WHO.
The authors say: "Transferring the public health responsibility for controlled medicines from INCB to WHO would end the impossibly contradictory situation in which INCB is mandated both to restrict and to promote access to controlled medicines…Attention must now shift to creating better legal frameworks that extricate pain treatment from drug prohibition."
Funding: JN has received an admission scholarship from the University of Ottawa and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/en/OSAPStarttoFinish/GraduateStudents/index.htm). AA is supported by a Canada Research Chair from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/chairholders-titulaires/profile-eng.aspx?profileID=1779) and by funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in Canada. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: JN is the Associate Editor of the Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy, which receives industry sponsorship, and has received an admission scholarship from the University of Ottawa and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. AA has sat on several WHO expert panels, but none dealing with the subject matter of this paper.
Citation: Nickerson JW, Attaran A (2012) The Inadequate Treatment of Pain: Collateral Damage from the War on Drugs. PLoS Med 9(1): e1001153. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001153
Institute of Population Health
University of Ottawa