By Sophie Cousins for thebmj. The global community must take concrete action to tackle the major gap in access to controlled drugs in low and middle income countries, particularly opioids for pain relief, a new report has said.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, which campaigns for reducing the harm caused by drugs, said that drug control systems were a major barrier to access to opioids in these countries. It called for a new global initiative, led by the World Health Organization, to be developed to ensure access to controlled drugs by removing domestic and international obstacles.

Michel Kazatchkine, the UN secretary general’s special envoy on HIV/AIDS in eastern Europe and central Asia and a member of the commission, told The BMJ that 150 of 190 countries—or 5.5 billion people— had very little or no access to opiates for pain relief.

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