Professor Nathan Cherny, Project Lead and Coordinator of ‘The International Collaborative Project to Evaluate the Availability and Accessibility of Opioids for the Management of Cancer Pain’, the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel.
On 29 September in Vienna, at the Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology, I presented the results of a major international study to regulate the availability and accessibility of opioids for the management of cancer pain in many countries. The project, the largest study of its kind ever undertaken, shows that in many places across Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, governments are failing cancer patients in the delivery of adequate pain relief.
The project has been coordinated by a coalition of five partner organisations: the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), the Pain and Policies Studies Group, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (PPSG), Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). A further 17 international oncology and palliative care organisations also took part in the project.
The study included 156 reports from 74 countries and 19 Indian states, representing a population of 4.8 billion people. It demonstrated a need for the increased availability of affordable opioids for the management of cancer pain and to address the widespread problem of overregulation that is contributing to the difficulties patients have in getting medications needed to relieve strong cancer pain.
Priority actions are needed to review and expand the formulary of drugs available to relieve cancer pain, improve the affordability of these drugs, to improve the availability of the drugs on formulary to enable better distribution and dispensing, a re-examination of drug control policies and a repeal of excessive restrictions which impede this most fundamental aspect of cancer care.
Find out more…
Click here to download the full press release, together with details of the 17 international oncology and palliative care organisations that took part in the project.
About the author
Since 1997, Professor Nathan Cherny has served on the research steering committee of the European Association of Palliative Care. In 1999, he established the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Working Group for the integration of oncology and palliative care and is currently Chairman of the ESMO Palliative Care Working Group. In 2007, Professor Cherny was appointed to the Norman Levan Chair of Humanistic Medicine at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Israel and in 2008 was promoted to Associate Professor in Medicine in the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He is widely published and maintains the Shaare Zedek Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Reference Database website that offers a searchable online library of 42,000 palliative care references.