The Harsh Reality Of Market Access And Opioid Addiction
August 02, 2016
Research showed that approximately 800,000 individuals were diagnosed with opioid addiction in 2014 in the EU5 – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. But how about the thousands of other individuals affected by the same problem in other parts of the world? The longstanding treatment strategy for patients with opioid addiction consists of a combination of opioid substitution therapy and psychosocial programs.
Even though there is more availability of prescribed pain killers for opioid addiction in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the EU5, there continues to be a gap in market access worldwide due to the emphasis on control and restriction due to legislation, national policies, knowledge, societal attitudes, and economic aspects, including affordability.
Only one in six addicted drug users globally have had access to or received drug dependence treatment services each year. 12 countries in Europe have faced serious challenges in accessing medication: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.
Projects like the Access to Opioid Medication in Europe (ATOME) have helped these countries by ensuring a more balanced approach in national policies on controlled substance, but with more work to be done.
However, for the majority of countries, particularly those in developing and poorer regions, such as Caribbean, Africa, South Asia, East Asia, South East Asia they have little or no access to basic pain medication and there has been little change over the decade.
As a nation with wider access to opioid addiction treatments for most people, we must recognise that ensuring access does not necessarily mean abuse, but it is necessary to maintain a balance between control and overly liberal availability.
Countries, with the help of organisations such as the Food and Drug Administration, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations, should review legislation and regulatory systems to remove unjustifiably strict provision and help these addiction patients who are highly underreported and need our help.