Examining Influences on the Availability of and Access to Opioids for Pain Management and Palliative Care

The following article, written by members of the Pain & Policy Studies Group, has recently been published in the Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.  
This Commentary relates to the recently-published essay in PLOS Medicine, entitled “Untreated Pain, Narcotics Regulation, and Global Health Ideologies.”  The article describes regulatory and other systemic barriers preventing the accessibility of opioid analgesics and contributing to patients not receiving adequate pain relief.  Four main points highlighted in the essay are discussed in this commentary: (1) the role of international treaties in medication availability, (2) the role of the International Narcotics Control Board in medication availability, (3) the role of regulatory policy in treating pain, and (4) the role of opioid analgesics in treating pain.  Recent authoritative statements and activities suggest a strengthened infrastructure within which governments currently can work to improve the availability of controlled medicines to enhance patient pain and palliative care services.