Home > Ensuring balance in national policies on controlled substances: Guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines

World Health Organization. (2011) Ensuring balance in national policies on controlled substances: Guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines. Geneva: World Health Organization.

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This report provides guidance on policies and legislation with regards to availability, accessibility, affordability and control of medicines made from substances regulated under the international drug control conventions, herein referred to as “controlled medicines”. Their scope encompasses “all controlled medicines”, but with a specific focus on essential medicines. Controlled medicines play an important role in several areas of medicine, including pain treatment, treatment of opioid dependence, emergency obstetrics, psychiatry and neurology.

The availability, accessibility and affordability of controlled medicines are important issues for all countries, but problematic for most of them. The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes governments, civil society and other interested individuals to strive for the maximum public health outcome of policies related to these medicines. WHO considers the public health outcome to be at its maximum (or “balanced”) when the optimum is reached between maximizing access for rational medical use and minimizing substance abuse.

Policy-makers, academia, civil society and other individuals whose area of work or interest is drug control or public health may potentially work with these guidelines in order to ensure that better use is made of controlled medicines and that more patients benefit from the advantages that their rational use can offer.

All countries have a dual obligation with regard to these medicines based on legal, political, public health and moral grounds. The dual obligation is to ensure that these substances are available for medical purposes and to protect populations against abuse and dependence. Countries should aim at a policy that ultimately achieves both objectives; in other words, a “balanced policy”.

The core legal basis for this obligation can be found in the international drug control conventions. Legal principles supporting national responsibility to ensure availability for medicinal purposes is also expressed in several legal instruments elaborating the international right to health. The political grounds can be found in various Millennium Development Goals, which cannot be achieved without controlled medicines. From the public health perspective, there are many societal benefits, including cost savings and reduction of transmission of infectious disease. Obviously, there is a moral obligation on governments to prevent people from suffering or dying if this is in any way preventable.


Date:2011
Pages:88 p.
Publisher:World Health Organization
Corporate Creators:World Health Organization
Place of Publication:Geneva
ISBN:978 92 4 156417 5
Edition:Revised edition
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:E Concepts in biomedical areas > Substance by legal status > Controlled substance
VA Geographic area > International aspects
MM-MO Crime and law > Substance use laws > Drug laws
E Concepts in biomedical areas > Substance by legal status > Prescription drug (medicine / medication)
B Substances > Opioids (opiates)
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Policy > Policy on substance use

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