The purpose of these self-assessment guidelines is to encourage governments to achieve better pain management of cancer patients by identifying and overcoming regulatory barriers to opioid availability. The guidelines are intended for those who decide national drug control policy and those who implement it. Balance is needed to prevent illegal trafficking and diversion of opioids, while ensuring availability for medical and scientific purposes.
Information is provided on the global problem of inadequate cancer pain relief and why opioids are needed. There are three barriers to adequate pain management: economic, medical and regulatory. While the Guidelines focus solely on regulatory issues, it is well understood that other barriers play major roles, such as the inappropriate prescribing of expensive medication which is ineffective in late-stage cancer.
Achieving balance in national opioid control policy: Guidelines for assessment. WHO/EDM/QSM/2000.4. Available from: Quality Assurance and Safety: Medicines, Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy, World Health Organization, Geneva.