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Cancer patients in poor countries receive unnecessary pain relief, according to the WHO

Published on 31/01/2019 18:55:16CET

GENEVA, January 31 (Reuters / EP) –

Cancer patients in developing countries are denied pain relief, often as a result of excessive fear of opioid abuse, warned the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday.

Two-thirds of the industrialized countries have oral morphine, an opioid commonly used to reduce severe pain, available in more than half of their pharmacies, compared to only 6 percent of poor countries, Dr. Cherian Varghese, WHO expert.

The UN agency issues new guidelines for health authorities around the world to address the pain affecting 55 percent of cancer patients treated and two thirds of those with advanced or terminal cancer.

"No one, nor patients with cancer, nor patients without cancer, should live or die in the 21st century," Dr. said. Etienne Krug, director of the department of non-communicable diseases at WHO, in a lecture. of the world (…) these medicines circulate too freely, there is a real and justified fear of it, but it should not be at the expense of people who are in pain or die of pain ".

An epidemic of overdoses of opioids in the United States, caused by too many prescriptions, claimed more than 49,000 lives last year, which has fueled the fear of addiction elsewhere.

The WHO guidelines prescribe strict safety measures for the administration of addictive substances such as morphine, but say that in its oral variant it is "an essential treatment for moderate to severe cancer pain".

Every year there are 18.1 million new cases of cancer in the world and one in six deaths, about 9.6 million, is due to the disease, the WHO says in a report for World Cancer Day on the 4th. February.

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